Alexandroupolis, a seaside municipality in Greece’s northeast coast is going to have cost-effective geothermal energy and heating soon.

As the world keeps looking to sustainable energy solutions, geothermal energy exploration can be essential for those countries with access to it. In the next 18 months, Greece will implement and complete a new project to explore the Antheia-Aristino low-enthalpy geothermal field near the city of Alexandroupolis.

Alexandroupolis geothermal energy system

Alexandroupolis geothermal energy system

Geothermal fluid of more than 90 ⁰C
Geothermal energy is obtained through heat derived within the sub-surface of the earth from water and/or steam carrying geothermal energy to the surface. Depending on its characteristics, geothermal energy can be used for heating and cooling purposes or be harnessed to generate clean electricity. However, electricity generation can only be done in areas located close to tectonically active regions. The Antheia-Aristino field is considered as one the most important geothermal fields located in Greece, mainly due to the availability of geothermal fluid of more than 90 ⁰C temperature and its potential for exploitation.

Part of IRIS Smart Cities
Unlocking this low-enthalpy geothermal field is considered as the most important objective of Alexandroupolis’ strategic plan towards a resilient low-carbon local economy. Alexandroupolis is the administrative centre of the Regional Unit of Evros and constitutes an interconnection gate between Mediterranean and Asian countries. This beautiful seaside city is working with a network of smart and sustainable cities (including Gothenburg, Utrecht & Nice) to accelerate deployment and improve performance as part of their work in IRIS Smart Cities.

The investment
The investment for the construction of the geothermal district heating network amounted to 6.2 million Euro. The project was eligible for funding by the ERDF Regional Operational Programme 2014-2020 of Region of East Macedonia and Thrace, which financed 95,31% of it. The remaining 4,69% was invested by Municipality’s own capital.

The first step of the exploitation of the available geothermal energy
It was a long journey for Municipality of Alexandroupolis to finally secure a lease for the exploitation of the geothermal field. The project includes the development of a geothermal district heating network that will provide heat for municipal buildings, social housing and greenhouses with a total thermal power estimated at 10 ΜW. It is considered as the first step of the exploitation of the available geothermal energy since the Municipality aims to expand the geothermal district heating network to residential buildings and potential industrial consumers.

Working within IRIS, Alexandroupolis and other fellow cities have identified extensive insights on barriers and drivers in flexible energy management and storage as part of the “Replication Roadmap”. This was developed as part of the project to benefit from in-depth peer-2-peer exchanges with frontrunner cities.

Lessons learned
The lessons learned during the development of the project highlight the increased effort and time required for completing studies and licensing. Accounting for time and expenses in licensing is an important point to raise when considering the replicability of geothermal projects in other regions and cities.

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Toolbox Policy & Planning Barriers and solutions A pioneering project for sustainable energy in Greece