EU and Mexico launch the first joint geothermal research project

European and Mexican researchers will work together on tapping into new sources of geothermal energy in the context of GEMex, an international project that was selected in a joint call launched by the European Union and Mexico. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, and Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, Mexican Secretary of Energy, announced the result in the margins of the Clean Energy Ministerial Meeting on 2 June in San Francisco.

Commissioner Moedas said: “Mexico’s vast geothermal resources provide a unique opportunity to apply and fine-tune production technologies that are being developed in Europe. It is an excellent example of how joint efforts work to the benefit of everyone involved. But this is just the start of a fruitful cooperation between the European Union and Mexico on renewable energy technologies.”

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Secretary Coldwell said: “The cooperation on geothermal energy between Mexico and the European Commission represents a joint effort to advance and apply technological developments in geothermal technologies. Mexico is one of the leading countries on geothermal generation and the collaboration with European counterparts will spur further technological development and marks the first step on renewable energy technology cooperation between the European Commission and Mexico”.

The EU and Mexico contribute equally to the €20 million project. The EU’s share comes from Horizon 2020, its €77 billion research and innovation funding programme (2014 – 2020), and the other from Mexico’s Fondo de Sustenibilidad Energética (SENER) – Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT).

GEMex will develop innovative methods for accessing the earth’s vast resources of heat now trapped in variable geological formations. The ultimate objective is to make this renewable energy source cost-effective and affordable both for electricity and heat production. The project will adhere to the strictest environmental standards and address issues around social acceptance of the technology.

The three-year project will start in the autumn of 2016. It is an example of successful international cooperation under the Bilateral Agreement for Science and Technology Cooperation EU-Mexico. The coordinated call was launched by Secretary Coldwell and Commissioner Moedas during his visit to Mexico in November 2015.

Access to affordable and reliable renewable energy technologies is a global challenge countries need to tackle together in order to limit climate change impacts of the modern era to below 2°C, as was agreed last year by participants of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris. The EU contributes to global efforts by striving to decarbonise its economy by 2050. Considering that about 50% of the EU’s primary energy consumption is used to produce heat, finding ways to harness geothermal heat economically and safely is a key part of the transition to low-carbon energy.