The objective of the GEOENVI project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, is to tackle environmental concerns about deep geothermal energy and work towards harmonized environmental regulations. Environmental risks and impacts are assessed, and tools and adapted methodologies developed based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Case studies are assessed in six countries: Belgium, France, Italy, Iceland, Turkey and Hungary. For Belgium, VITO’s Balmatt site in Mol is studied.



Geothermal energy has the main advantage to possibly offer energy 24 hours a day, either as electricity, heating or cooling. Because it does not depend on the weather, it is a very promising renewable energy source. On the other hand, the market uptake of deep geothermal energy production is limited due to negative public perception about possible negative environmental effects. GEOENVI aims at tackling these concerns and removing them, to influence decision makers and the perception of the general public.

The GEOENVI project focuses on six countries, and each country has a different deep geothermal potential, market maturity and geological setting, and therefore different public environmental concerns.  First, these environmental concerns and market barriers were mapped and analysed. In order to harmonize existing regulations on how to perform Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of geothermal projects, LCA guidelines were developed, which are available here. These guidelines were applied to the different case studies, VITO’s Balmatt site in Mol being one of them, to tackle bottlenecks at the local and regional level. For some of the case studies, including Balmatt, simplified parameterized LCA models were developed. A simplified model allows non-LCA experts to estimate LCA results of a geothermal plant using only a few main parameters without an extensive data collection. To ensure the use of the developments and recommendations of the GEOENVI project and to influence the market uptake of deep geothermal energy, geothermal stakeholders and decision makers were involved in different workshops and webinars. The project focused on implementing results through better environmental regulations on geothermal plants at the national level and by sharing results at the European level and fostering European market actors to adopt environmental assessment tools developed in the GEOENVI project.

EnergyVille/VITO was involved in all parts of the project at the local, national and European level, with main contributions to the following tasks:

  • Develop harmonized guidelines to conduct environmental impact assessments integrating life cycle assessment of deep geothermal energy
  • Apply harmonized guidelines to Balmatt case study
  • Create simplified parameterized model of Balmatt LCA model and test its interest among geothermal stakeholders that are not LCA experts
  • Engage with decision makers for creating recommendations for harmonization of regulations
Carolin Spirinckx


Carolin Spirinckx

Project Manager Smart Energy and Built Environment at EnergyVille/VITO