Geothermals call for a specific set of regulations for its definitive drive in Spain

Geothermal energy needs specific standards for its definitive deployment in Spain. This is one of the conclusions of the seminar on “New advances in shallow geothermal energy” organised as part of GENERA 2016 by the Illustrious Official College of Geologists (ICOG) and the Association of Renewable Energy Companies (APPA).

According to geologist Albert Pujadas, technical director at Quali Geotermia, “the regulatory framework is a vital element for the deployment of quality geothermal energy in Spain”. However, the sector is currently facing a range of problems relating to legislation. “Regulations are confusing, disorganised, slow to implement with each Autonomous Community having its own criteria” complains Pujadas. This is why we need to have “a specific, more unified and simpler set of regulations” adds the geologist.

One of the fundamental aspects of shallow geothermal installations is to guarantee the availability of the resource. For this, Benito Rivera, head of Geothermals at the College of Geologists, recommends the Geothermal Protection Perimeter. This perimeter would “regulate the resource and avoid its over-exploitation”, he points out. Along these lines, he advocates geological and hydrogeological probes that establish collection models that can be integrated into the installation. “These allow for efficient location, guaranteeing the resource and earning client confidence”, explains the expert.

Manuel Regueiro, president of the ICOG, recalled that “knowledge of the terrain can achieve better returns from geothermal installations”. The College has proposed that the political parties help stimulate geothermal energy in Spain as part of the review of the basic documentation contained in the Technical Building Code (CTE) to introduce geothermals into the construction and refurbishment of buildings. Similarly it has proposed a white paper on Low Enthalpy Geothermals to promote proper legislation and financial aid to develop geothermal energy in buildings.

In this regard, José María González, director general of APPA, has supported extending the debate on renewables “so that it goes beyond its use for electricity to include thermal energy”, in which geothermals play a prominent role. González recalled that in Spain “80% of the energy we use comes from abroad” pointing out that “we spend 40 billion euros importing energy from overseas… with more than 50% of all the energy we consume still originating from petroleum”. According to the director general of APPA, the geothermal sector contributes €30m to the Spanish economy however only plays a modest role in the energy mix.