Mapping the energy potential below our feet

Sep 03, 2013
Mapping the energy potential below our feet
Credit: Shutterstock

Easy-to-access visualisation of the 'very shallow geothermal potential' (vSGP) of Europe has been made possible thanks to an EU-funded project. By harmonising pre-existing data relating to geological, hydrogeological, soil and climate, the THERMOMAP project has developed an open source web service, accessible to all.

Geothermal energy, including horizontal shallow , is locked just below the Earth's surface. Systems using very shallow can provide simple and effective heating solutions to both homes and businesses.

Due to fast payback times as well as low impact installation, the shallow sector has become the largest geothermal sector in Europe. Despite this however, there remains a lack of widely accessible information on the innovation.

This is where the THERMOMAP project comes in. It harmonises and analyses already existing in order to calculate a value for the geothermal potential, and helps users to identify areas favourable for superficial geothermal exploitation.

The THERMOMAP MapViewer is intended for planners, engineers, public bodies, scientists and the general public. It provides an overview (the European Outline Map) and also more detailed information and usable data about the local shallow geothermal conditions in selected test sites.

Community planning and administration authorities for example can test the geothermal potential of their entire administrative unit. In addition, a calculator has been developed, which gives a more precise estimation outside the project testing areas.

After selecting the calculator, users are presented with some information about the calculator and can input an address. Assuming the address is valid, the map viewer will zoom to the location; users can then view the background information and download a report on the area's suitability for a very shallow geo-thermal system.

The new version of the map is fully multi-lingual, covering all eight project partner languages. The map viewer interface, the reports, and the calculation function have all been translated, and an increasing number of documents are coming online.

During the project, field studies were undertaken in fourteen test areas in nine different project countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Romania and the UK. In the test areas, detail about the very shallow geothermal potential (vSGP) was given for three depth layers (0 - 10m) at scales varying from 1:5,000 to 1:40,000. Outside of the test areas, the European Outline Map (EOM) gives a first estimation of the vSGP at a scale of 1:250,000.

Explore further: Solar, geothermal projects touted at Vegas summit

More information: THERMOMAP www.thermomap-project.eu

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