First Mapping of relevant policy and regulatory issues

Geothermal energy is a heavily regulated sector, and usually requires a specific support framework. When regarding the framework conditions for research in geothermal, it appears that they are highly influenced by the energy, climate and research policies. To improve this framework, it is necessary to influence these policies.

It can be done by communicating and promoting the messages laid out in the Geotherm Fora Project, the ongoing Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda and the future Implementation roadmap to the relevant policy makers, at both regional, national and EU level.

In order to reach these objectives, the detailed mapping of relevant policy and regulatory issues described in this report aims to set the context by presenting the policy and regulatory framework impacting geothermal RD&I. The goal is to highlight the main issues in order to make sure that the geothermal sector vision and research priorities are translated into political priorities and coherent policy messages.
After an overview and a mapping of the main European policies and regulations applying to geothermal energy, this report provides an inventory of the main European funding streams for innovative geothermal projects, which also influence the regional and national frames.

When considering the European regulatory and policy framework, the various interlinked regulations and policies create a complex regulatory background. Although this may not necessarily result in an overregulation of geothermal projects, and may indeed provide a consistent and robust framework that allows confidence in geothermal deployment, the lack of readability may be a deterrent for the emergence of new geothermal markets.
Geothermal energy is promoted at the European level in the framework of the EU’s Climate and Energy objectives, which aim to put the European economy on a pathway compatible with maintaining climate change below 2°C. As a renewable energy source, geothermal energy is indeed a solution that can contribute to meet this objective. However, the specific requirements of geothermal, namely drilling, geothermal fluid extraction and possible gas emissions, put geothermal projects within the scope of several European environmental legislations. In addition, as geothermal development is still new in many markets, geothermal projects usually benefit from European policies to support research, development and innovation.

The overview provided in this report aims to present the most general regulatory and policy framework, the European one, while acknowledging the role of national and regional authorities in providing additional frameworks that are adapted to local specificities. National and regional frameworks may indeed vary significantly from the European one, by proposing more robust and more specific policies according to the issues specific to a territory. According to the principle of subsidiarity, the EU proposes regulations that leave large margin for national, regional and local authorities to set more ambitious thresholds or to implement a detailed framework. However, the analysis of support frameworks for geothermal energy at the national and regional level goes beyond the scope of this paper.

Full document is available here.