Research project Lean will not be continued
The Lean research project into the possibilities of geothermal heat extraction in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands, will not be continued. In view of the lead time of the decision-making processes, the lack of an assessment framework and the tight time windows for obtaining subsidies, the initiators of Warmtebron Utrecht do not consider it feasible to continue the project.
Research project LEAN (Low cost Exploration And deriskiNg of geothermal plays: the Rotliegendes demonstrator) was initiated in 2017 by consortium partners TNO, Huisman, ENGIE, EBN, ENECO, WEP and IF-Technology. The province and the municipality of Utrecht have also joined this partnership.
"We are very sorry that we cannot realise this geothermal energy project in the built environment of Nieuwegein," says Joris Peijster on behalf of the project management. “But we are still motivated to start geothermal projects within the exploration area in the Utrecht region. We believe in the opportunities offered by this technology to make an important contribution in both Utrecht and the rest of the Netherlands to making the energy supply more sustainable and thus achieving the climate objectives.”
Geothermal heat remains in the picture
According to Peijster, the fact that Lean as a project in Nieuwegein will not be continued does not alter the fact that geothermal energy in the province of Utrecht remains fully in the picture as a potential sustainable source for making the heat demand more sustainable. “In Nieuwegein, too, geothermal energy remains on the agenda as far as we are concerned. At the end of January, the entire city council unanimously supported the view that geothermal heat extraction is a realistic option for making the district heating network more sustainable.”
In order to be able to assess location proposals, the municipal assessment framework must be tightened up and established first. In retrospect, according to Peijster, the initiators of Warmtebron Utrecht underestimated the time required for careful litigation in public decision-making about these kinds of developments. “In the Lean process, we noticed how difficult it is for all parties when policy and regulations are in flux. Therefore, it is very important for the development of geothermal energy in the built environment that appropriate policy development continues.”
In addition to words of thanks, the consortium also invites the parties involved to collect the lessons learned together. Peijster: “This way we can ensure that this learning money is paid out in follow-up projects for geothermal energy in the region. Fortunately, the Lean research project has provided valuable information about the possibilities and impossibilities of geothermal energy in the Utrecht subsurface. A lot of work has been done in both building up and sharing knowledge that can be expanded upon.”
For example, the planned research drilling for the national SCAN program of EBN (Energie Beheer Nederland) east of the city of Utrecht is interesting to learn more about geothermal energy in the Utrecht subsurface for possible future projects. Peijster: “In addition to sharing information, we naturally want to build on relationships with, among others, the province and municipalities in the field of geothermal energy.”