Geothermal energy and storage of sustainable energy

Below the surface of the earth the temperature of the rocks increases. The Dutch subsurface has therefore an important role to play in the energy transition through the use of this geothermal energy which, if harvested responsibly, is truly a sustainable energy source. It has the potential to provide approximately 20 percent of Dutch heat demand over time. This is not an insignificant contribution as heat demand in the Netherlands represents almost half of our total energy demand.

The Netherlands has experience in the extraction of heat from shallow subsoil and strata down to 3.000 metres. However, experience with ultra-deep geothermal energy, starting from 4.000 metres, is not yet available. EBN is currently investigating how we can best use geothermal energy from the deeper subsurface in the Netherlands in an effective and responsible manner. The induced seismicity from Groningen gas production and resulting negative impacts on citizens living in the Groningen area emphasizes the need for extra attention to be paid to all aspects of safety.. However, geothermal energy extraction differs from gas production in that it is essentially a ‘closed system’ with no/limited pressure reduction induced within the geothermal producing interval. For this reason, combined with careful well placement, we can expect fewer effects on the environment than in the case of gas extraction.

Read more about extracting geothermal energy in the Netherlands on our website: (Dutch)
More information about the role of sustainable energy in the energy transition can be found in this article:
‘Geothermal Energy’, in: Focus 2018, EBN.

Cooperation within the sector

Together with a large number of parties, we investigate where projects with geothermal energy could be successful. In 2017, EBN joined Green Deal Ultra Deep Geothermal Energy, the Green Deal Geothermal Energy Brabant and the Geothermal Energy Alliance South Holland. In May 2018, EBN presented the Master Plan for Geothermal Energy in the Netherlands. This was also accomplished with the cooperation of a large number of private and public partners. The plan is a roadmap for the development of geothermal energy in the Netherlands. It states the actions that are required to be able to produce 50 petajoules of geothermal energy annually as of 2030, and 200 petajoules as of 2050.

View the roadmap for geothermal energy in the Netherlands:
Master Plan Geothermal Energy in the Netherlands, may 2018
Read more in our annual report about the partnerships surrounding geothermal energy in the Netherlands:
Annual Report 2017. Connection in the energy transition, p. 47.

The heat map of the Netherlands

Large sections of the Dutch subsurface have already been mapped. But the ‘heat map of the Netherlands’ still shows many blank spots. At this moment, EBN and TNO are establishing the potential of geothermal energy on locations where we still know little of the subsurface. This project is performed by order of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) under the name SCAN (Seismische Campagne Aardwarmte Nederland).

Hydrogen as battery

The storage of energy is one of the greatest challenges in the transition to a sustainable energy system. Both the demand and supply of energy fluctuate strongly. That is why we must be able to store large amounts of energy for a long period of time. EBN is involved with the development of hydrogen as an energy carrier. This solution is relatively cheap and hydrogen can easily be stored in underground salt caverns for instance. Hydrogen from methane could serve as the predecessor of ‘green hydrogen’ from sustainable energy. During the production of hydrogen from methane, CO2 is released. When this CO2 is stored underground or reused, it is called blue hydrogen. This method of working could quickly and significantly reduce the emission of CO2.