Geothermal Direct Use

The Challenge

Even though geothermal energy has been utilized directly for centuries, currently, it is mainly used in balneology and heating applications in China, North America, and Northern Europe.  At the end of 2019, it was estimated that installed thermal power capacity for direct utilization was a modest 110 GWt.  Geothermal energy has gained growing recognition for its potential to provide clean and reliable heat energy to support industrial decarbonization.

Geothermal direct use is the use of the heat energy from geothermal resources without an intervening medium, as opposed to its conversion to electrical energy.  It can support economic activity, create jobs, promote gender equality, and displace greenhouse gas-intensive fuels currently used for heating contributing to global decarbonization efforts.

To promote wider adoption of geothermal energy, challenges must be addressed.  The limited information and familiarity about geothermal direct use and its potential; matching of the resource to the market; transporting of heat energy or goods; and barriers related to cost of investments relative to the economic value of a lower temperature heat source, all contribute to the need for widespread adoption of geothermal energy.