Georesources – for the Energy Transition and a High-Tech Society
How can a rapidly growing world population meet its future needs for energy and raw materials without harming the Earth system? This question is more topical than ever, because oil, natural gas, and coal remain the largest sources of energy, providing 70 percent of the world’s energy requirements. Germany, too, remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels despite the energy transition, which began in 2011. Another problem is that exploiting some georesources will become increasingly expensive in the future. For example, to access the mineral resources we need for the energy transition and our high-tech society, we will have to explore deeper into the interior of the Earth. Accordingly, in addition to using raw materials more sustainably and strengthening the circular economy, we will need more efficient methods of finding these resources.
We study the 3D structure of the Earth’s crust and its chemical-mineralogical-biological composition, and we investigate how it changes over time. This is the only way we can discover where metals and energy resources can be found and how they can be used more sustainably.
We also develop new concepts and models to harness geothermal energy for the supply of heat, cooling and power, especially in cities. We aim to improve our understanding of how, where and when valuable raw materials form on land and in the oceans. Another focus of our research is to investigate how carbon dioxide or hydrogen, for example, can be stored in the subsurface in the most reliable and sustainable way. In order to optimize storage and energy generation, we are developing new 4D Earth models that can be used to analyze physical properties and processes that occur deep underground over the course of time. As a result, we are also contributing to the safe storage of radioactive waste.
The solutions for a future energy mix must be reliable, environmentally friendly, and economically efficient. We aim to use our research findings to advise policymakers before they make decisions on how resources might be better used and managed in the future.
“We aim to provide a scientific basis for securing the future supply of safe, clean energy and raw materials, sustaining 21st century infrastructure and enabling the energy transition.”
Topic-Speaker: Sarah A. Gleeson, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences