Hungary is an interesting country to follow in terms of geothermal energy development. The country sits on a huge potential for geothermal energy that is so far very much untapped. Although there are various geothermal heating plants in Hungary and one power plant, the wider application of geothermal be it for heating only or also for power is so far very much underrepresented.
Geothermal energy could also effectively support the country’s goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, a commitment that was enshrined in law adopted a year ago. The Ministry of Innovation and Technology has now announced a call to support projects focusing on the utilisation of geothermal energy.
“Hungary has unique geological features, which can be a competitive alternative to fossil energy sources,” said Attila Steiner, Hungary’s State Secretary for the Development of Circular Economy, Energy and Climate Policy.
By 2030, the goal is to create an energy sector that combines a high level of security of supply in a consumer- and climate-friendly way and is able to continuously embrace innovative solutions.
The recently announced 6 billion Hungarian forints (17 million euros) support scheme aims to provide funding for the high-cost phase of geothermal energy projects: for production and injection wells. As the State Secretary explained, the upscale of renewable energy capacities and energy production based on energy sources with low environmental impact are inevitable to shift towards a more sustainable economic development.
Hungary aims to raise the share of renewable energy resources within gross final energy consumption to 20 per cent by 2030. The two key pillars of the government’s decarbonisation strategy rely on the expansion of domestic nuclear and renewable energy (mostly solar) capacities. However, even if there is a large-scale, ambitious expansion in nuclear capacities and the ratio of renewable energy production is to be deliberately increased, 40 per cent of power generation will still rely on natural gas, which arrives predominantly from Russia.
Geothermal energy could support Hungary and other Central and Eastern European countries to curb their dependency on fossil fuels. The Pannonian Basin has outstanding geothermal potential and the countries in this region have all set up centralised district heating systems, which means that the infrastructure is in place already.
According to ThinkGeoEnergy, which has been covering geothermal energy ambitions from Eastern European countries for years, geothermal could help eastern European Union countries ditch fossil fuels and essentially leapfrogging gas.