This article attempts to identify the main ‘above-ground’ factors which impact on the contribution that geothermal energy can make to the Dutch Energy Transition, and to draw conclusions about these factors. Recent literature sources are used to illustrate the size of Dutch heating demand, and the part of this which can be provided by geothermal energy. Consideration is given to the impact of off-take variability over time, showing that the base-load nature of geothermal doublets acts as a restraint on the share which they can take in the energy supply. The characteristics of district heating grids are discussed. Other potential sources of heat are considered and compared.
The conclusion is that geothermal energy can provide a material contribution to the energy transition. This depends to a large extent on the existence of and design choices made for the development of district heating networks. Large size and standardisation, and the development of seasonal heat storage, are beneficial.
Unlike most other renewable sources of heat, which have alternative ‘premium’ applications such as the provision of ‘peak capacity’ or molecules for feedstock, geothermal energy is not suitable for other uses. The emission savings that it can provide will be lost if other heat sources are chosen in preference as supply for district heating, so that it makes sense that district heating infrastructure should be designed to encourage the use of geothermal energy where possible.