Belarus’s geo heating; Germany’s RE laws; Iceland draws data centers and makes a geologic discovery; A project at Mt. Nemrut, Turkey; UK town looks at geo heat from old mines

In Europe, Belarus is exploring its geothermal heating capabilities. Germany has made changes in renewable energy laws. Iceland continues to provide leadership in the utilization and continuing research of geothermal energy applications. A JV is developing the Mount Nemrut geothermal project in Turkey. West Cumbria, UK considers a geothermal district heating project similar to one in Glasgow.

Belarus: Geothermal Heat Explored
Germany: Industry Discusses Legal, Economic Geothermal Issues
Iceland: Geothermal a Draw for Data Centers; On-land Lava Pillars Discovered; President Voices Geo Support
Turkey: JV Developing Mount Nemrut Geothermal Project
UK: West Cumbria Considers Geothermal District Heating from Abandoned Mines

Belarus: Geothermal Heat Explored
Belta.by notes that an international energy conference in Grodno this month featured a geothermal exhibit. The session included “prospects for comprehensive utilization of geothermal heat.”

Germany: Industry Discusses Legal, Economic Geothermal Issues
An article on Thinkgeoenergy.com notes changes in Germany’s laws on renewable energy, including uncertainty on feed-in-tariffs. Challenges were discussed at the recent Praxisforum Geothermie Bayern workshop in Bavaria, as well as profitable options moving forward: direct sales and local value creation. “So while in the short term nothing will change for geothermal in the medium term, the sector will have to look at direct marketing of power produced from geothermal plants,” according to the article. “There were though voices at the event that said that this might in itself provide an opportunity as selling power locally might be profitable and improve levels of acceptance with the local population as value is created on site and will remain in the municipalities of the plants.”

Iceland: Geothermal a Draw for Data Centers; On-land Lava Pillars Discovered; President Voices Geo Support
Iceland continues to provide leadership in the utilization and continuing research of geothermal energy applications. This week saw headlines on how the aluminum and data center industries are relocating to use Iceland’s geothermal energy; a new geologic discovery; and President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson once again spoke publicly on geothermal’s benefits.

The northern island has become home to two data centers, Verne Global and Advania, that take advantage of the country’s renewable power, particularly geothermal energy. The centers feature factory-built modular infrastructure, free cooling, and 100% renewable energy. The model began with aluminum companies: Alcoa, Rio Tinto Alcan, Century Aluminum and Elkem put large plants there in recent years and now account for 80% of the power generated by Landsvirkjun, the nation’s largest power company. “We offer data centers the double benefit of going green while cutting costs,” Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, Iceland’s Minister of Industry and Commerce was quoted at Datacenterknowledge.com. “We see a lot of potential with the data center industry, and it fits well with our goals. It’s jobs and it’s a way of selling our energy.”

A geologic discovery in Iceland shows that pillars created from lava, once thought only to exist in the deep ocean, also exist on land in Iceland and could possibly exist in more land locations. Huffingtonpost.com describes the process that happens in the ocean: “At mid-ocean ridges, or points in the deep ocean where the continental plates are peeling apart, lava seeps out of the ocean floor. Hot water rises up through this pillow lava and cools the nearby lava into rock, and as lava levels rise, spires grow, and remain even after lava flows have ebbed.” The first such pillars on land were documented in 2010. Tracy Gregg, a geologist at the University at Buffalo in New York who along with a student studied the pillars is also planning to compare to high-resolution images from Mars for signs of lava pillars, potentially a sign that the Red Planet once had water.

Icelandic President Grímsson, who provided the keynote address back at GEA’s 2011 Geothermal Energy Finance Forum (Geo-energy.org) recently spoke at Drake University’s Harkin Institute, where he spoke on the benefits of clean energy in combating climate change and sparking innovation in everything from driving power plants to warming greenhouses’ tomatoes. Desmoinesregister.com

Turkey: JV Developing Mount Nemrut Geothermal Project
Efla Engineering Group (Iceland), RARIK Energy Development (Iceland), and Zorlu Enerji (Turkey) have established Memrut Jeotermal Elektrik for the development of the Mount Nemrut geothermal project. RARIK has previously confirmed potential for geothermal power generation at Mount Nemrut of up to 150 MW. The parties are also looking at the development of district heating at the site. Thinkgeoenergy.com

UK: West Cumbria Considers Geothermal District Heating from Abandoned Mines
West Cumbria, UK is looking at using geothermal district heating through a potential project to use water currently flooding the city’s abandoned mines. Lee Carr, of Britain’s Energy Coast, was quoted at In-cumbria.com: “We are looking at Glasgow city Council project … we see this as having potential for west Cumbria.”

Geothermal in the UK also saw support this week in an article on Urbantimes.co calls geothermal the “Unspoken Answer.” “The largest problem with wind and solar is the inconsistency of power generation. They are intermittent and, unlike nuclear and fossil fuels, cannot adapt to demand fluctuations.” Down the road, the article continues, geothermal looks promising to complement intermittent wind and solar for the future energy mix. “We should be cautious in investing fully into these technologies as a single solution.”

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