During its First International Conference, the EU-funded CROWDTHERMAL project introduced its research outcomes and services with a view to empowering society to participate in geothermal projects through alternative financing schemes and highlighting thus the decisive role geothermal can play in the energy transition.
CROWDTHERMAL broadcasted its First International Conference on 7 April 2022 live from Madrid to more than 140 online participants. The aim of the event was to officially introduce the services the Horizon 2020 funded project is developing for community-financed geothermal projects.
The mission of CROWDTHERMAL is to empower society to directly participate in the development of geothermal projects, with the help of alternative financing schemes and social engagement tools. The project team is currently finalising a set of services with regard to the alternative financing of geothermal projects. These services encompass environmental studies, economic aspects, financial risk mitigation and social acceptance considerations.
The core services will assist the geothermal sector, contributing thus to accelerated market development in Europe and supporting the European Union’s 2030 climate and energy targets as well as the new REpowerEU plan which aims at greater strategic independence of Europe’s energy supply.
The event was hosted by the Centre for Studies and Experimentation of Public Works (CEDEX) which is affiliated with the Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (Mitma) and the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (Miteco).
Both the Director of CEDEX, Áurea Perucho, who opened the conference, and the Director of the Geotechnical Laboratory, Fernando Pardo, who provided an overview of the application of geothermal energy in civil engineering, expressed CEDEX’s support for CROWDTHERMAL.
In her keynote speech on ‘Geothermal in the energy transition and the role of the society’, Francisca Rivero, the Secretary-General of IDAE, the Spanish Government’s Institute for the Diversification and Saving of Energy, emphasized that “CROWDTHERMAL’s objectives are fully aligned with the EU Green Deal.” She highlighted the importance of actively involving citizens in the Spanish Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan which foresees the development of energy communities placing citizens “at the heart of the energy transition.” In this context, alternative financing methods such as crowdfunding can contribute to transforming citizens “from passive consumers to actors and producers” of energy, improving thus the social acceptance of renewable energy projects and democratising the energy system.
Speakers from public and private entities then provided an overview of the role of geothermal energy in decarbonising cities, the financing of geothermal projects including alternative financing schemes and social engagement in geothermal projects.
On this occasion, the CROWDTHERMAL team introduced its main research outputs, including, among others, its guidelines for public engagement, its proposed risk mitigation framework, innovative finance mechanisms for geothermal energy, the guidelines for developers and promoters of geothermal energy and the Social License to Operate for the geothermal sector.
The last session of the conference allowed us to introduce the services CROWDTHERMAL is developing for communities of citizens, geothermal project developers and local authorities. A beta version of those services is due to be launched publicly by the beginning of May 2022. The objective is to turn CROWDTHERMAL into a one-stop shop for enquiries about empowerment in geothermal projects through community funding.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 857830.