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Geothermal is good to go

Shatter Munich’s fossil-fuel shackles – full steam ahead for geothermal

The Munich utility company (SWM) wanted to keep Munich residents in (fossil-fuel) shackles – despite the fact that an environmentally friendly resource beneath Munich (geothermal) was not out of reach – and had long been marketed by the very same SWM as its goal for 100 % renewables in Munich.
Why did the Munich utility company not leverage the city’s geothermal potential instead of continuing to supply the city with fossil-fuelled power?
Protect the Planet in conjunction with the Clean Energy for Munich network made concrete suggestions for a heating transformation in Munich – via creative protests with local relevance.

Munich was 95 % fossil-fuelled, despite all its climate neutrality promises and climate emergency declaration and, in doing so, was only exacerbating the problem of global warming. Geothermal power, the ideal starting point for climate-neutral, safe and cost-effective heating, which could also free us from dependence on autocratic regimes, had been criminally neglected.
For far too long, the construction of new geothermal plants had been overlooked by the council and SWM as they continued to use evasive arguments for persisting with coal- and gas-fired power plants. Yet Munich was once a model city, praised for harnessing the natural heat of geothermal energy.

The so-called South German Molasse Basin – the region between the Danube and the Alps – is ideal geothermal power generation. All of the surrounding Munich districts already supply a good proportion of their residents with environmentally-friendly and sustainable heat from the depths of the earth – with some even using the excess heat to generate power. For years, Munich had promoted its ability to make 100% of its heating geothermal by 2040. Yet implementation lagged behind the rhetoric.

In 2016 a decision was made to build at least five new geothermal plants within the municipal area. Currently only two of them have been built – and no change is likely now before at least 2028. This also explains why the SWM increased the price of district heating by 162% in response to the war in the Ukraine, while the prices for surrounding districts supplied with geothermal heating remained much lower.

This cannot continue! We demonstrated alongside the Clean Energy for Munich network (Netzwerk für Saubere Energie München) – for Munich to have a sustainable energy supply. After all, making Munich climate-neutral by 2035 is very far from becoming a reality.

We called on the City Council and SWM to:

  • make a clear expansion policy for geothermal energy its highest priority
  • open new geothermal sites within and beyond Munich
  • convert the existing steam network to a hot- water network as originally planned by 2030
  • develop an interconnected grid linking geothermal plans all over Munich via district heating routes

More detailed information:

Clean Energy for Munich network (Netzwerk Saubere Energie München), 2 June 2022: “Münchens fossile Fesseln zerschlagen – Volldampf für Geothermie jetzt!” (“Shatter Munich’s fossil-fuel shackles – full steam ahead for geothermal now!”)

Protect the Planet, 18 October 2022: “Kreative Aktion: Münchner Kindl wollen klimafreundliche Fernwärme!” (Creative action: Munich residents want climate-friendly district heating!”)

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