Installing systems to warm up buildings and generate electricity using energy from beneath the earth’s surface is set to grow faster in Germany than other carbon-free energy sources, according to a Deutsche Bank report.
Germany has the potential to generate about a fifth of its heating requirements from tapping geothermal energy, Deutsche Bank analyst Josef Auer wrote in a report issued today. That may be worth 25 billion euros ($37 billion) through 2030 for the building industry, he said.
Geothermal energy can come from natural formations where molten rock, or magma, is closest to the earth’s surface. They exist in the western U.S., east Africa and southeast Asia, where fault lines produce active volcanoes. Unlike wind and solar, geothermal energy is available 24 hours a day, reducing the need to combine its distribution with a more reliable fuel for producing power, such as coal.
Other regions, including Germany, can still tap underground water or rock that reaches 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit), hot enough to heat homes. Producers of geothermal power can use either existing underground hot water sources to power turbines, or inject water into hot rocks to produce the needed steam.
Germany’s installed capacity of geothermal electricity expanded 33 times to 6.6 megawatts between 2004 and 2008, according to the Deutsche Bank study. At the moment, geothermal sources generate 0.003 percent of the country’s electricity, less than other renewable energy sources in Germany, including wind. Wind energy accounts for 6.6 percent.