Near-surface Geothermal Resources in the Territory of the Alpine Space

Challenges of the Alpine Space

The Alpine region is facing increasing heating and cooling needs, due to the expansion of sectors such as tourism. A reduction in CO2 emissions and self-reliance in energy are also needed in this area, which are possible only by fostering the implementation of low carbon and renewable technologies and, among them, Near Surface Geothermal Energy (NSGE) systems and underground heat storage.

Unfortunately, NSGE is a diffused resource across national borders, but the regulations, best-practice knowledge and the integration of NSGE in energy plans show huge deviations, and the policy instruments at different administrative levels have rarely considered these systems. Although this system is one of the most abundant reliable renewable thermal energy sources, widespread and available in remote mountain areas, needing no transport of energy products and having no direct emissions to air.

However, the knowledge gap about NSGE and the strong differences in country-specific regulations and practices have so far hampered the implementation of NSGE in policy instruments and limited its diffusion across the Alpine Space. These issues affect the substitution of fossil fuels with NSGE and make it necessary to develop harmonized cross-border strategies, policies and common energy planning procedures and tools to foster the implementation of this low carbon system in the Alps.