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Accelerating geothermal heat adoption in the agri-food sector: Key lessons and recommendations

(AGENPARL) – Abu Dhabi (Emirati Arabi Uniti), sab 12 gennaio 2019 Predominantly known for power generation and district heating, geothermal energy can also be used in
its primary form (i.e. heat) in the agri-food sector – for instance in greenhouses or for food drying and
processing. Using it for such purposes can help increase food availability, reduce dependency on fossil
fuels, protect against price volatility and diminish harmful emissions from the sector. Furthermore, it can
significantly reduce food waste.

Several geothermal applications in food processing and agriculture require low temperatures and
can therefore be deployed in areas where the geothermal resources would not be suitable for
power generation. These applications could increase the number of countries and regions that could
benefit from such indigenous and renewable energy source. Despite its promising potential and
increasing interest from policy makers and key stakeholders, direct use of geothermal heat in food-related
applications across the world is still rather limited.

Against this background, this publication aims to increase awareness, share experiences and lessons, and
provide recommendations for expanding geothermal heat use in the agri-food sector. The analysis in this
document suggests the following six broad critical factors.

The existence of legislation awarding rights to develop geothermal resources beyond power
generation with clear and transparent licensing procedures and, where possible, streamlined for
smaller-scale projects.

The establishment of tailored policy instruments for geothermal heat, notably to share/mitigate the
risks associated with the initial and more capital intensive phases of a project.

The establishment of tailored policy instruments for geothermal heat, notably to share/mitigate the
risks associated with the initial and more capital intensive phases of a project.

The integration of geothermal plans into industrial and rural development strategies and the
involvement of local communities and entrepreneurs. These strategies may include measures aiming
to attract new productive activities around geothermal areas.

In new and emerging markets, support provided to feasibility studies and pilot projects to improve the
understanding of the geology and assess the heat demand profile of productive activities located near
the geothermal resources.

Capacity building and training of the local workforce in food production and processing (e.g. in
dryer use) to ensure efficient operations and catalyse the wider deployment of geothermal in
agri-food projects.

Wise management of geothermal resources to ensure compatibility with the environment and
long-term economic sustainability.

Countries aiming to develop geothermal energy applications for food and agriculture may benefit from
international platforms such as the Global Geothermal Alliance to share experiences and insights on
technical, policy, regulatory and financial solutions and to explore opportunities for co-operation.

This publication has been developed within the framework of the Knowledge Sharing Platform of the
Global Geothermal Alliance.

Documents:

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