Companies encouraged to explore geothermal energy


An insurance scheme launched by Flanders’ energy minister will cover certain costs for businesses that invest in deep geothermal energy projects

Major investment

Flanders’ energy minister hopes to boost the geothermal sector with a guarantee scheme for companies that invest in deep geothermal energy projects.

Geothermal energy originates from the formation of the planet, decay of materials in the Earth’s crust or friction from tectonic plates, and is known as deep geothermal energy if it comes from further than 500 metres below ground. It provides a sustainable energy source when hot water is pumped from it and the heat extracted.

Drilling for deep geothermal energy requires major investment, with significant risk that it will generate less energy than hoped for as there is still a lack of detailed knowledge about the local subsurface. “With the guarantee scheme, we hope to convince companies to invest and to facilitate a breakthrough of deep geothermal energy in Flanders,” energy minister Bart Tommelein said.

Companies that want to drill in deep earth layers can submit a dossier to the government. If it turns out after drilling that the estimated energy production is not achieved, the government will pay back certain costs. The companies contribute to the scheme by paying a premium.

Until now, only the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (Vito) has carried out a trial project on deep geothermal energy in Flanders, with promising results. The Kempen region, in the north of Antwerp and Limburg, is the most attractive area for drilling because the hardest layers of rock are deeper there than elsewhere. 

Photo courtesy Vito