Geothermal Energy

Sustainable heat from underground


Geothermal energy is a sustainable form of heating that is generated and stored in the Earth and that can be used locally for the heating of houses, office buildings, greenhouses and industry. The Dutch subsurface has a lot of potential for the extraction of geothermal energy: the subsurface contains warm water that is stored in between layers of rock. This warm water can be pumped up and then its heat can be used.

The subsurface temperature, and therefore the temperature of the water in the subsurface, increases with the depth: the deeper you go, the warmer it is.      The temperature increases with around 30 degrees Celsius every kilometre. Geothermal energy is a source of energy with very little CO2emissions and thus contributes to the sustainability of the Dutch management. 

Worldwide, the production of electricity from geothermal energy is the most important and most widely spread, followed by the heat supply to houses (district heating). In the Netherlands, geothermal energy is mostly used for heating greenhouses. Thanks to the first Dutch operators, true pioneers in a period in which the extraction of geothermal energy in the Netherlands had yet to be proved, geothermal energy is now a proven sustainable heat source for the horticultural industry. New users in the built environment and industry are increasingly represented, but horticultural areas are still the most important market sector for geothermal energy.

Frequently asked questions

Below we will comment on some current topics. For more questions on geothermal energy we refer you to the frequently asked questions of the Dutch Platform Geothermie.

In May 2018, the Master Plan Geothermal Energy in the Netherlands was published, in which not only the potential growth of the sector was described, but also its necessary conditions. Safety and perception are of vital importance to that. The implementation of the Master Plan is in full swing.

The operator of a geothermal energy well uses different methods to guarantee the correct functioning of the well for decades. These methods vary from the intensive monitoring of the integrity of the wells, the administering of the lowest possible dose of corrosion inhibitors to sensors that continuously monitor the composition of the pumped-up water. Based on this continuous monitoring, an accurate image of the safety of the heat productions will be formed, and if necessary actions will be taken to safeguard it.

Geothermal energy needs time to be accepted as a new source of sustainable energy in our society. Concerns of other subsurface users, like the drinking water sector, are known in the sector. Research into the effect of geothermal energy on drinking water in the subsurface is being done in open collaboration with drinking water companies. More information on groundwater and geothermal energy can be found in the factsheet Geothermal energy and groundwater.

In the ground there are naturally occurring faults. During the drilling process, these faults can be ‘activated,’ as it were, and this can lead to tremors or earthquakes. The force that is used during the drilling process is so small, however, that the chance of it leading to a perceptible earthquake is very small. In areas in which more faults are present, extra care is needed. This is always taken into account when the location and design of a well are chosen. The Dutch Mining Authority (SodM) reviews the data and design. More information can be found in the factsheet Geothermal energy and seismic activity of the Dutch Platform Geothermie.

The ideal planning of geothermal energy in the Netherlands requires both aboveground and underground consideration. This spatial planning will only be done well if it’s done in collaboration with regional authorities, the government, local residents and geothermal operators. In the development of Regional Energy Strategies (RES) the different interests must be taken into account as much as possible.

The operators are aware of their responsibility and therefore participate in detailed discussions on effective measures with all involved.  Besides the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and SodM, provinces, municipalities and EBN are also included in these discussions (EBN stands for Energie Beheer Nederland, a state-owned company with years of experience in the exploration and extraction of gas and oil).

More information

For more information on geothermal energy, we refer you to the Dutch  Platform Geothermie

Other interesting website on geothermal energy:

Hoe werkt AardwarmteKas Als EnergiebronGlastuinbouw Nederland.