I've received a copy of a new regulation framework for geothermal energy in Europe. Handed to me by a colleague last week, whose associate led the drafting of the document.
Geothermal is still an infant industry. In many countries, governments lack even a basic mechanism for granting licenses on geothermal projects. There just isn't any legal-work around giving a company rights to hot groundwater.
The new framework attempts to address this and several other issues for European governments. Giving them suggestions on how to administer and foster geothermal projects within their borders.
Much of the document is straight-forward. The licensing process should be transparent and streamlined. Contract timelines should be set based on realistic estimates of the amount of work needed to assess a geothermal resource. Data from test wells should be centrally collected and used to hone future licensing and exploration.
But there are a few more interesting and unexpected suggestions made by the framework.
The document specifically recommends that geothermal licensing fees should come in lower than for hydrocarbon and mining licenses. In recognition of "the lower return on investment from geothermal energy systems... and the beneficial characteristics of geothermal energy as a low carbon, sustainable energy resource."