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Geothermal

News Geothermal


SPAIN NOT ONLY INVESTS IN DEVELOPING WIND AND SOLAR ENERGY BUT ALSO ENCOURAGES THE USE OF OTHER SOURCES SUCH AS GEOTHERMAL ENERGY. THIS RESOURCE HAS GRADUALLY GAINED GROUND IN OUR COUNTRY, THANKS ESPECIALLY TO ONE OF ITS APPLICATIONS: CLIMATISATION (HEATING AND COOLING) OF HOUSES AND OTHER BUILDINGS.

A number of extensive studies and research conducted between the 1970s and beginning of the 1990s showed that Spain has substantial geothermal resources in its subsoil. This work detected and identified several geographical areas with considerable potential. As part of the work to draw up the 2011-2020 Renewable Energies Plan, additional studies are being conducted to complete this information and provide a better assessment of Spain’s geothermal potential.
In contrast to previous plans, the new Renewable Energies Plan will include a specific section on geothermal energy, with specific targets for each temperature gradient: very high temperature, associated with climatisation and the use of heat pumps; low and medium temperature for district or individual heating or other heating applications involving hot water fields; and high temperature for the generation of electricity or other thermal processes using stimulated or dry rock fields.

New developments
In order to conduct high temperature projects (over 150ºC); information available in Spain needs to be improved. Certain suitable locations have been detected, but a considerable effort is needed to assess their geothermal potential for these applications. Future research must focus on identifying hot rock fields or fields with poor permeability into which water can be injected and pumped to the surface once heated to generate electricity.

Emerging sector
There is an emerging sector involving the use of very low temperature geothermal resources for heating and cooling and domestic hot water, which is leading to the creation of an industry where quality and specific know-how about this technology is crucial to avoid market distortions and make certain end consumers receive quality products and services. Climatisation using geothermal energy is based on the fact that the earth is at a more constant temperature than the atmosphere; tending to be hotter than the ambient temperature in winter, and vice versa in summer when the ground is cooler than the air.
Using the right technology – primarily heat pumps – this resource can be used to supply buildings and other infrastructures with heating, cooling and hot water, and achieve energy savings of up to 60%. Geothermal systems are therefore being installed in hotels, offices, retail outlets, universities, etc., and even underground stations such as Pacífico (Madrid), which is capable of generating its own heating and cooling using a geothermal system.
The Spanish Government has encouraged the establishment of the Spanish Geothermal Technology Platform (Geoplat), a group dedicated to coordinating scientifictechnical work in the sector and involving all the main players. The primary objective of this platform is to identify the technological requirements of the sector and ensure these are met through R&D&I projects conducted by the Spanish administration and the European Union. 

MILESTONES
• A Prior to 1974: the Spanish Institute of Mining and Geology (IGME) performs oneoff studies of geologically favourable areas, the most noteworthy being the studies conducted in Montaña de Fuego (Lanzarote) in 1948 and 1949.
• 1974-1975: the IGME performs the first systematic analysis of geothermal resources: the National Inventory of Geothermal Activity".
• 1975-1979: the IGME analyses the areas of greatest geothermal interest identified in the Inventory.
• 1980-1984: identification of all areas of thermal activity, detailed analysis of areas of major interest (Canary Islands, Cordilleras Béticas, Catalonia, Madrid, Burgos and Orense), and technical and economic studies of the feasibility of exploring geothermal resources (IGME and E.N. ADARO).
• 1987-1990: the Autonomous Region of Madrid conducts a project entitled “Use of Geothermal Resources in Historical Buildings in the Region of Madrid”. The first test drilling takes place.
• 2006: interest in geothermal energy grows quickly in Spain, primarily in relation to heat applications for heating and cooling buildings, and for generating electricity using hot rocks or stimulated fields.