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Geothermal energy – a local answer to a hot topic?

Resolution 1737 (2010)

Parliamentary Assembly
Text adopted by the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, on 21 May 2010 (see Doc. 12249, report of the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs, rapporteur: Mr Rouquet).
1. Geothermal energy is currently used in 90 countries around the globe, 24 of which use it to produce electricity. Geothermal energy is far from new, having been used as an energy source as long ago as the 14th century.
2. Geothermal energy is an interesting solution to the worldwide dwindling gas and oil reserves. According to some experts, it even offers the best cost-effectiveness ratio of all renewable energy sources.
3. Furthermore, the Earth's heat is an abundant source of energy which pollutes little and has considerable potential, as its possibilities are still largely unexploited, particularly where private users, urban heating networks or industry and agriculture are concerned.
4. The Parliamentary Assembly stresses that geothermal energy has a great many advantages, owing to its availability, its low operating cost, its integration in the sustainable energy mix and its positive impact on the environment.
5. However, the Assembly notes that the exploitation of geothermal energy still suffers from shortcomings, mainly in legislative or regulatory terms (vague legislation, complex and lengthy administrative procedures, etc.) or of a financial or economic nature (investment costs still too high, inadequate risk coverage and insurance mechanisms, etc.).
6. Accordingly, the Assembly considers it expedient to set up common instruments, at European level, to facilitate investment in geothermal projects, as well as financial investment intended to cover investors should technical problems arise.
7. The Assembly regrets in this respect that the public is sometimes reluctant to accept geothermal energy projects, owing to a generally recognised lack of information and awareness-raising.
8. In this context, the Assembly believes that local elected representatives and political decision makers have a paramount role to play in making the general public and potential investors aware of the need for a green transformation and the potential of geothermal energy as an effective instrument in response to climate change.
9. Consequently, the Assembly invites the Council of Europe member and observer states to:
9.1 foster the development of geothermal operations in their national energy strategies;
9.2 encourage the use of geothermal energy in all its forms, particularly locally;
9.3 encourage international co-operation in the transfer of technology and the financing of geothermal development;
9.4 increase realisation and awareness among the general public and potential investors of the advantages of geothermal technologies for a sustainable energy infrastructure;
9.5 take the necessary steps to set up strategic research programmes and encourage the exploitation of geothermal energy resources;
9.6 foster the introduction of financing and insurance schemes for exploration;
9.7 encourage the setting-up of transfrontier co-operation schemes to finance surface measurements and test drillings;
9.8 introduce a European training and professional development framework;
9.9 draw up a map of European geothermal energy resources within the framework of co-operation between the geological research bodies of each country.
10. The Assembly also invites the Council of Europe member and observer states to harmonise the system of risk guarantees and the regulatory and administrative regime for the use of geothermal energy through the introduction of common instruments.
11. Additionally, the Assembly invites the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe to encourage local authorities to be reliable partners in the development and operation phases of geothermal projects.