Accueil > EGW 2018 : 6th European Geothermal Workshop > Abstracts > Session 5 : Sustainability, Environment, Regulation Framework, and Societal (...) > Session 5 : Oral Presentations

Session 5 : Oral Presentations


Sharing benefits as a key for social acceptability – experiences around the world

Renato Papale

Big investments in energy plants produce social and economic growth. When the investments are based on the exploitation of renewable resources (which are natural and domestic), these two advantages are joint with environmental sustainability and positive effects on the balance of trade in developing Countries with energy deficits.

These are common sentences that are widely shared at National level. At that level, it is easy to find an excellent social acceptability of investments in renewable energy.

Unfortunately, renewable energy sources generally have the characteristic of not being transported or stored ; they must be exploited where they are and when they occur. Therefore, renewable energy plants must be built where the resource is, i.e. in places that do not necessarily have an “industrial” inclination…

Thus, the problems with social (societal) acceptability occurs at local level, even if at the macro-social or at national levels they would seem to be solved. Sometimes the basis of the dissent is economic or cultural, but more often the local community expresses environmental concerns.

The presence of the resource is everywhere pre-existing to the decision of the investment, sometimes to a noticeable extent ; probably its exploitation, in different forms, is already part of the local culture. Nevertheless, when a new investment is proposed, often it faces a strong opposition.

So, we can face the strange situation of a clean, green project that encounters hostility mainly for environmental reasons… What I have described so far is true for every renewable energy resource, but especially for geothermal energy. I mainly refer to “deep” geothermal investments for electric power generation.

If, therefore, on a rational social and cultural level, the sustainability of renewable energy resources is universally celebrated, why at the local level it becomes so harshly opposed ?

The motto "think globally, act locally" is a well-known slogan of the environmental associations worldwide ; but in practice it seems that "locally" must be banned the same investments that are "globally" wanted due to their values of sustainability. For people working in our sector it is a strange but diurnal experience.

Usually, the blame of such a situation is put on a lack of communication.

This is certainly true. But the experience shows that investing in announcement rarely gives good results. This is because any technical, scientific and cultural information clashes today with a large mass of disinformation ; if it is due to good or bad faith, it doesn’t matter : the effects are the same. Scientific and technical world is nowadays facing a widespread feeling of diffidence, and the situation is getting worse... Paraphrasing the postulate of Newton, one could today enunciate a "third principle of the scientific information" according to which, for every scientific statement supported by long and exhaustive experiments, there is always at least someone graduate in some similar discipline who, providing results of empirical checks, is able to assert the contrary, obtaining a large and fair credibility.

Just remember that in the present days a Minister of Health of the Italian Republic is questioning the validity of vaccinations and just declared polio vaccination as "optional". With all due respect to the efforts of Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin...

Consequently, the problem of the social acceptability of investments in renewable energy must be undertaken from a different and much more material point of view. Ultimately, the question that is implicitly put is really simple and already well-known ; it is strange that it does not find an adequate answer. It is : “if it is true that the proposed investment has enormous economic, social and environmental benefits for the whole community, why all the discomfort, however small, I have to suffer it in my backyard ?”…

So, the only investment that is suggested to be pursued is not in information or culture, but in a proper distribution of the benefits of the investment. To do so, geothermal energy has an advantage on the other sources, and is the possibility to share waste heat for direct uses, having great results in social and economic development of the region, devoting a neglectable sum of money.

The present paper describes three circumstances that derive from personal working experience in three different regions : Italy, Andean Region, Kenya.

Three different tactics are shown :
• A territorial marketing project, based on Italian (Tuscan) traditional food, whose desirability on the market is amplified by the sustainability of the production processes, due to exclusive combined use of genuine ingredients AND renewable energy.
• An isolated smart grid, to give renewable energy to the “pueblos” scattered on the Andean plateau, able to sustain an economy based on traditional handcraft and new businesses linked to the distinctive environment.
• The development process of a Maasai community based on cultural heritage (related to volcanism) and geothermal resource, to accompany them through a deep cultural transition.

Using the “Sustainable Development Goals” table and some technical considerations it is here shown how geothermal, in each case, can induce perceivable and ethical development for local communities.

Unfortunately, despite of the sharpness of strategies, none of the three experiences represents a clear successful case, in terms of social acceptance... it is reported as in all the three cases, a hard opposition is still present.

So, this paper is more useful to highlight errors, rather than to point out a good practice...

But it is nevertheless evident that setting up at least one successful initiative, which could be the benchmark for good practice and be communicated as an example ; shortly : an example which could in the future clearly demonstrate how a local community will have conquered a valuable and durative sustainable development due to geothermal, is in the interest of the entire geothermal community and not just of an individual investor.

This is why the geothermal institutions must continue financing demonstrative projects as those three here shown.

Social acceptability of deep geothermal energy : overview of an online survey from five European and American countries

J. López-Sánchez, D. Blessent, M. Malo, J. Raymond, C. Dezayes, P. Goderniaux, L. Daniele, T. Le Borgne, E. Ramírez, J.P. Portela, J.E. Hernandez

Social acceptability has become an essential aspect to move energy projects forward, including energy from renewable sources such as geothermal. The UNESCO International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) and the International Union of Geological Sciences have been supporting the IGCP636 research project since 2016. This project focuses on unifying international research forces to unlock and strengthen geothermal exploitation of the Americas and Europe and belongs to the “Earth resources : sustaining our society” IGCP theme.

One of the objectives of IGCP636 is to promote a sustainable exploitation of geothermal resources and to ensure acceptation of this kind of energy by local communities. A survey was then used to evaluate the public perception and level of knowledge about geothermal energy in the five leading countries of the project (Colombia, Chile, Canada, France, and Belgium).

The international survey was based on a bilingual (French/English) questionnaire that was previously created by the Institut national de la recherche scientifique in 2013 for a study carried out in the province of Québec, Canada (Malo et al. 2015). This study was inspired by previous work on geothermal energy and renewable energy conducted around the world (Hobman and Answorth 2013 ; OGSAQ 2012). It was adapted afterward for an international public, translated in Spanish and Dutch, and conducted in the last trimester of 2016. It was created with ‘Question Pro’, an online question platform, which is suitable to reach the public using email, embedding in websites or posting to social networks. Results are collected automatically and their analysis can be done using the reporting tools provided by the platform. The questionnaire was characterized by some open-ended questions, but most of them were multiple-choice questions with an “I don’t know / I prefer not to answer” option available. Fourteen opinion questions and a series of demographic questions (country and city, sex, age, level of education) constituted the survey, which enclosed six parts : 1) energy issues, 2) energy production, 3) awareness of deep geothermal energy, 4) acceptability of deep geothermal energy, 5) use of stimulation (hydraulic fracturing) in deep geothermal energy project, and 6) concerns about the use of geothermal energy.

A total of 1800 respondents from five countries answered the survey (Belgium – 230 ; Canada – 357 ; Chile – 371 ; Colombia – 409 ; France – 433). The average interview length was 9 minutes.

As an illustration of the survey results, Figure 1 shows that, in general, people agree with the use of deep geothermal resources to generate electric power in all countries. However, unlike Colombia, Chile and Canada, where a percentage of respondents higher than 50 to 80 % strongly agree with the use of deep geothermal resources for electricity generation, people from Belgium and France preferred the option “somewhat agree”, suggesting that the population may have questions or doubts about the production of electricity from geothermal resources. In Chile, the high percentage of respondent ( 84%) choosing the option “strongly agree”, reveals that Chileans have confidence in the exploitation of geothermal resources to produce electricity. This opinion may originate from the a priori knowledge that they have on these resources, enhanced by specific communication actions performed in this country. The Andean Geothermal Center of Excellence (CEGA) works to generate and improve geothermal knowledge in Chile, promoting the sustainable, environmentally friendly and economically competitive development of geothermal energy.

Other results include answers on general topics about energy, such as the two most important issues related to energy in the country (e.g. energy independence, energy supply, energy efficiency, renewable energy development, and the cost of energy), the goal of each country with respect to renewable energy production, and the knowledge that respondents have about renewable energies. Then, answers to questions about the potential use of stimulation in order to exploit deep geothermal resources for electricity production through Enhanced Geothermal Systems indicate that the use of stimulation lowers all percentages of acceptation in all countries, highlighting the social barriers to the use of this technique, which raises doubts and concerns among the surveyed communities. Further work could be achieved with focus groups to better define public concerns related to geothermal energy development.

Consumer’s perception of company’s corporate social responsibility in the context of a geothermal energy facility development

M. Contini, E. Annunziata, F. Rizzi, M. Frey

Nowadays companies are putting a lot of efforts in a wide variety of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)-related activities, such as socially responsible employment, natural capital preservation programs, etc. (Sen & Bhattacharya, 2001 ; Ali et al., 2017). In particular, companies are ascribed to have various spheres of responsibility, or CSR domains Ali et al., 2017 ; Lee et al., 2012). The social and environmental domains (SD and ED) where companies are usually accounted for responding to their impacts on the society and the environment (European Commission, 2001 ; Öberseder et al., 2013). Moreover, companies need to properly communicate their CSR efforts, constituting a third domain of responsibility : the communication domain (CD) (Swaen & Chumpitaz, 2008 ; Parguel et al., 2011). Companies’ CSR efforts have been proved to be beneficial to consumer’s response, and consumers’ loyalty represent one of the most important construct for understanding the goodness of CSR-related activities (Lacey et al., 2015 ; Stanaland et al., 2011, Lee et al., 2012 ; Inoue et al., 2017). Despite companies’ efforts, studies on consumers’ view of CSR and CSR domains are lacking (Brunk, 2010), and the understanding of which CSR-related activities are the most effective in affecting consumers’ loyalty is of paramount importance for companies that want to avoid damages to their profitability. In particular, the development of renewable energy facilities such as deep geothermal energy facilities have already caused consumers’ oppositions, resulting in damages to companies’ profitability. Thus, it is even more important for geothermal energy companies to understand how consumers see and value their CSR engagement.

To address such issues, we empirically tested which CSR domains are valued by consumers, as well as the relative importance they give to each CSR domain when evaluating their loyalty. We explored these evaluations across five developing countries – i.e. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) –, and we considered the context of a deep geothermal energy facility development. We used data from a questionnaire survey of 1516 respondents gathered within the metropolitan areas of the capital cities of each BRICS country. To test our hypotheses, we applied the rologit model, which allows us to study how consumers combine different attributes into an overall evaluation of their loyalty. Stemming from the three CSR domains identified in literature, four attributes were considered : local communities’ well-beings (ILC) and mangers’ nationality for the SD ; environmental impact (EI) for ED ; communication transparency and reliability (CUT) for CD.

Results are described as follow. When considering all the BRICS countries together, results show that ILC and CUT represent the most important attributes upon which consumers base their loyalty, with the former preceding the latter in terms of strength. Further, EI has a weak but positive effect on consumers’ loyalty, while MN has a weak but negative effect. We also detailed the results along the BRICS countries. While ILC represents the most important attribute regardless of the country considered, MN does not show any significance across countries. Moreover, EI is relevant only in the case of China and CUT does not display any effect on consumers’ loyalty only in the case of India. The SD emerged as the most important CSR domain as compared with ED and CD, but only when referring to ILC – and not to MN. Thus, energy companies should prioritise the understanding of how and to what extent the development of deep geothermal energy facilities impacts local communities’ well-being over the employment of managers with multicultural backgrounds. Despite that, they should avoid to completely overlook MN, since literature underlines the importance of individuals’ integration to excel in CSR performances. Moreover, energy companies can still draw from ED and CD strategic advantages when performing CSR-related activities. While the former indirectly influences ILC depending on the CSR-activities performed, the latter remarks the importance of avoiding phenomena of “greenwashing”. This paper contributes to the literature of CSR-consumer binomial, taking the consumers’ perspective on the evaluation of CSR domains and related activities.

Where and when do energy benefits from EGS outweigh induced seismicity risk ? Findings from private and social cost benefit analysis

Evelina Trutnevyte, Theresa Knoblauch

Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) harness thermal energy from the deep underground to produce renewable and low-carbon electricity and heat. The literature has repeatedly drawn attention to the dilemma of siting EGS projects in terms of induced seismicity and EGS profitability (Giardini, 2009 ; Majer et al., 2012 ; Trutnevyte and Wiemer, 2017). On the one hand, siting EGS projects in remote areas away from populated spaces and buildings can reduce exposure and thus induced seismicity risk, but the waste heat from these projects often remains unused due to the absence of large heat consumers. On the other hand, heat sales, especially to a district heating network in densely populated areas, make EGS projects more economically viable and the price of electricity more competitive as well as reduce CO2 emissions. However, the induced seismicity risk is higher.

Motivated by ambitious EGS targets and hence complex siting decisions in Switzerland and elsewhere, we use cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to quantify the trade-off of siting EGS of different capacities in remote or in densely populated areas (Knoblauch and Trutnevyte, 2018). We conduct CBA from two perspective : private and social CBA (European Commission, 2014). Private CBA reflects the viewpoint of the EGS operator and thus includes private Net Present Value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), and levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). Social CBA (social) reflects costs and benefits to society as a whole, including damage risk due to induced seismicity, CO2 savings, and heat and electricity benefits, in order to quantify social NPV and benefit-to-cost ratio (B/C ratio). Among all parameters that could be varied for CBA, we put primary emphasis on the trade-off between benefits of producing electricity and supplying geothermal heat to residential buildings and avoiding CO2 emissions from fossil fuel heating versus induced seismicity risk to the same residential buildings. As both the benefits of selling heat and induced seismicity damage to residential buildings can be monetized, CBA is an adequate tool for quantifying the siting trade-off.

For the case of Switzerland, we analyze 12 hypothetical scenarios combining different EGS size (water circulation rates of 50, 100, or 150 l/s) and siting (0, 1’000, 10’000, or 100’000 residents nearby). We model the EGS plant and its heat and electricity production in detail and couple it to a purposely developed model of induced seismicity hazard and risk that is adequate for first order-of-magnitude estimates, given the high uncertainties and lack of data for induced seismicity. We bound uncertainties using Monte Carlo and sensitivity analyses. The full analysis is available in a forthcoming publication (Knoblauch and Trutnevyte, 2018).

Since the electricity generation costs in current EGS are not competitive at the current market prices, we assume the price of electricity of 0.32 USD/kWhel that would make EGS investment in most of our scenarios worthwhile to investors. In terms of the private perspective of investors (private CBA), we find in Figure 1 that large EGS (150 l/s) near a large population (10’000 or 100’000 residents), enabling high heat sales, are most profitable. EGS at 50 l/s or in very remote areas are not profitable and exhibit negative private NPV even at an assumption of 0.32 USD/kWhel.

With the same assumptions, social CBA shows that the most profitable EGS scenarios for society according to the social NPV (including direct and indirect costs due to electricity and heat generation, CO2 savings, and damage due to induced seismicity) are the scenarios with mid- or large-size circulation rate (100 or 150 l/s) combined with siting near some but not too many residents (10’000 or 100’000 residents). Among eight EGS scenarios with positive social NPV, the most profitable from Figure 1 is EGS scenario, wherein EGS is located near a considerable number of residents (10’000) combined with highest circulation rate (150 l/s). Mid-range profitability can be expected from EGS scenarios near some residents (1’000 or 10’000 residents) in combination with the small circulation rate (50 l/s) and EGS scenarios located near no residents combined with medium circulation rate (100 l/s). Regarding negative social NPV, EGS scenarios located near an especially large number of residents are unattractive investments from the social perspective. This can be attributed to extensive risk due to damage due to induced seismicity. Also, EGS scenarios surrounded by no residents show negative NPV for the smallest circulation rate (50 l/s). In this scenario, EGS produces too little electricity to compensate for high upfront investment (50 l/s).

After conducting extensive Monte Carlo analysis to bound uncertainties inherent to EGS and model limitations, we conclude that even at an electricity price as high as 0.32 USD/kWhel that would make EGS a viable project to investors, our results do not necessarily support the claim to site EGS in remote areas to avoid induced seismicity risks due to lacking benefits from remaining heat (Giardini, 2009 ; Majer et al., 2012). Considering CBA from the private and social perspectives jointly, EGS should rather be sited where considerable heat can be sold but damage due to induced seismicity remains limited but not necessarily zero. In addition, EGS need to be carefully designed in order to generate sufficient revenues from electricity and heat sales in order to pay off high upfront investment costs.

11 décembre 2018