On 16 September 2020, the CROWDTHERMAL project held its first Advisory Board workshop in order to validate outcomes of the first project year. The Advisory Board gathers experts from the geothermal, financial and social side.
Since the project started in September 2019, the team has developed a set of reports, addressing social, environmental and financial aspects of community financed geothermal projects. A customised case study assessment protocol (GEOPLAT) has been established to assess the overall perception of the process, concerns and needs, as well as public acceptance and engagement factors. A report on geothermal environmental factors (University of Glasgow) presents a state-of-the-art literature review of environmental factors influencing public support of geothermal energy projects. Environmental factors throughout the different lifecycle phases of deep and shallow geothermal energy projects have been investigated. The Advisory Board agreed on the importance of trust at all project stages and expressed their interest in CROWDTHERMAL’s endeavours considering public empowerment as a key factor. The Advisory Board’s feedback will help shape the public engagement guidelines and the Social License to Operate model for different geothermal technologies which are both expected to be published in the coming months.
The Advisory Board was also invited to comment three reports focusing on financial aspects. The CrowdfundingHub presented best practice examples of renewable energy projects in Europe using alternative financing methods at different stages of their development. In addition, an alternative finance risks inventory and potential mitigation tools were presented by GeoThermal Engineering GmbH. The reports compile the key advantages, potential risks and possible risk mitigation measures for different alternative finance methods, each from a project developer’s and from a community investor’s perspective. Key questions addressed during the discussion were how to best involve community investors in financing geothermal projects, which project phases are most suited for community financing and which type of governmental support can help increase the number of successful geothermal projects. The Advisory Board’s input has been highly appreciated by the project partners and a detailed analysis is carried out in order to incorporate the comments received.