Hungary’s geothermal potential a ‘natural treasure’
“Hungary’s geothermal potential significantly exceeds the global average, and is one of the natural treasures of the country,” says Mária Tóthné Tőkey, the Head of Division for International Projects, at the Hungarian National Environment Protection and Energy Center (NKEK).
Hungary has set ambitious targets for its renewable energy use by 2020. Based on the National Renewable Energy Action Plan and the EU 2020 strategy, the aim is to increase the share of energy from renewable sources to 14,65% of gross final consumption. To achieve this target and ensure high environmental standards and stable energy prices, Hungary needs to make substantial investments in available renewable energy sources. The country is well known for its thermal spas, but far less known is the rich opportunities within geothermal energy.
“So far the direct heat utilisation of these geothermal resources is far below its potential,” Tőkey points out.
Geothermal is a form of heat accessible from the Earth’s surface, which is cost effective, reliable, sustainable and environmentally friendly. It can contribute to reducing Hungary’s CO2 emissions and reliance on fossil fuels. The geological conditions for extracting geothermal resources are promising, especially in the Pannonian Basin which has a significant potential for direct heat utilisation.
“By 2020, we aim to increase geothermal heat production by 3-3,5 times compared to the 2010 level,” Tőkey explains.
To assist Hungary in increasing its share of geothermal energy Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway provide €250 000 for scholarships to eight Hungarian professionals to graduate from the geothermal training programme at the United Nations University in Iceland (UNU-GTP), through the Hungarian ‘Renewable energy’ programme. This six month training programme covers tuition fees, travel and subsistence.
Iceland is a world leader in geothermal energy; about 9 out of 10 households are heated using this environmentally friendly energy source. With more than 40 years of experience in utilising, extracting and developing geothermal energy and with several high profile companies with expertise in this field, Iceland has put geothermal energy in the forefront when it comes to bilateral cooperation.
The Icelandic National Energy Authority is the donor project partner. Tőkey has high hopes for deepened and broadened cooperation.
“The geothermal training programme will increase our knowledge and extend cooperation on an institutional and person level.”