Shallow Geothermal Energy Planning, Assessment and Mapping Strategies in Central Europe

Mission and vision

GeoPLASMA-CE aims to foster the share of shallow geothermal use in heating and cooling strategies in central Europe. Geothermal methods are a locally available, endogenous heat source not affected by emissions, which is a present and future key technology in order to reduce emissions hazardous to climate and air quality. The project intends to create a web-based interface between geoscientific experts and public as well as private stakeholders to make the existing know-how about resources and risks associated to geothermal use accessible for territorial energy planning and management strategies in Central Europe.

GeoPLASMA-CE web portal

 The portal consists of a knowledge platform aiming to disseminate profound background information on shallow geothermal energy use and to connect people interested in this topic across Europe.

For our six pilot areas in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Slovenia, we created web-based information and decision support systems providing GIS based web maps and location specific data reports containing all information stored in our web system.  

Join a virtual tour through our web-portal with our entertaining tutorial video and visit our web portal.


What is shallow geothermal energy?

Shallow geothermal energy (also: near surface geothermal energy) is the heat available or rather stored in the ground. It is available everywhere and anytime, regardless of daytime or season. In central Europe, the temperature in a depth of 20 metres amounts to a constant temperature of roundabout 10 °C. Every 100 metres deeper the temperature increases by 3 K. It can be used for cooling and heating purposes (deep geothermal energy also for electricity production). The heat of the ground is usually extracted in closed loop systems, rarer in open loop systems. Geothermal energy is renewable, ecologically friendly and space-saving at the surface.

Closed loop systems

Closed loop systems use pipes made of polyethylene for heating and cooling. They can be installed vertically down to several hundred meters (tube systems) or horizontally meandering in depths of 1,0 to 1,5 meters (collectors). There are also more compact collectors combining vertical and horizontal energy extraction. Furthermore, foundation piles of buildings are also used for geothermal installations. Several tubes, piles or collectors can be combined to install higher capacity systems.

All closed systems use brine (a mixture of water and a refrigerant like gylcol or ethanol) which continuously circulates in the pipes. Below the surface this fluid absorbs heat from the ground and flows back to the top. A heat exchanger transfers the fluid’s heat to the heat pump and its refrigerant fluid. Compression raises the temperature of the refrigerant fluid in the heat pump from around 10 up to 60 °C. After passing the heat exchanger the brine returns to the ground and a new cycle begins. For cooling in summer, the process is reversed: the heat is extracted from the building and carried back to the ground. This can be done in a very economical way as a free cooling process.

Open loop systems

The process of open loop systems is very similar to closed loop systems, but it uses groundwater directly as heat source. No additional water or fluids are needed. In an extraction well ground water is pumped to the surface, where it transfers its energy via heat exchangers to the heat pump. Afterwards the water is reinjected to the groundwater horizons using an injection well.

Scheme SGE use

GeoPLASMA-CE in numbers






Pilot Actions





Web-based portal for decision support and information systems based on 3D data models

Web based expert platform for transfer of knowledge and connecting stakeholders of shallow geothermal use in Central Europe

The portal is available at  

tools picture


Integrative management strategies for the use of shallow geothermal methods in the selected pilot areas

pilot actions


Harmonized strategies for planning, mapping, management and monitoring of shallow geothermal use based on joint transnational standards


Pilot area vienna
Area: 220 km2
Population: 339,356

AT flag

GeoPLASMA-CE in Vienna (Austria) focuses on the challenges of geothermal use of groundwater in the city districts 21 and 22. The pilot area covers parts of the groundwater body Marchfeld, which already host many shallow geothermal applications. Growing numbers of single installations will influence each other and prevent a sustainable use of groundwater for heating and cooling. 

What is our plan to overcome this challenge? Find out here...

Vienna Pilot area

Vienna Pilot area

Pilot area ljubljana
Area: 275 km2
Population: 287,000

SI flag

The objective of the project activities in Ljubljana pilot area (Slovenia) is to quantify spatial distribution of shallow geothermal potential for utilisation with ground source heat pumps and integrate this information into development and management strategies of the city with a goal to meet environmental objectives set in the Ljubljana city Sustainable Energy Action Plan 2010 - 2020.

What is our plan to achieve this? Find out here

Ljubljana pilot area

Ljubljana Pilot area

Pilot area Krakow
Area: 326,9 km2
Population: 762,448

PL flag

Krakow city pilot project area (Poland) occupies an area of approx 326,9 km2 and covers the area within the administrative border. Krakow is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland with population of 762,448 (as on 30th of June 2016), comprised ca. 2% of the population of Poland and 23% of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship respectively. Krakow is situated by the Vistula (polish Wisła) River. The city stretches from the North to the South approx. 18 km, whereas from the West to the East approx. 31 km. Point of the highest elevation within the city limits to 383 m above sea level.

Find out more here...


Krakow, photo by Ziarno, CC BY-SA 3.0 pl, via Wikimedia Commons

Pilot area bratislava
Area: 603 km2
Population: 450,000

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AUT flag

Pilot area Bratislava (Slovakia, Austria) includes Bratislava city and the transboundary part of Austria in the vicinity, including town Hainburg with the total evaluated area of 603 km2 (Slovak part - 367 km2 and Austrian part 236 km2). From geological point of view pilot area is diverse including hard rocks (granites, limestones, dolomites) and non-consolidated sediments (gravels, sands, calys). Estimated population in the pilot area is around 450,000 inhabitants (434,000 in Slovakia and 16,000 in Austria) including urban and rural areas resulting in different population density and different energy needs. The energy market, regulation, support and consumer behaviour is different in both countries and so having its own specifics that will be evaluated within the project. At the end this will lead to proper further recommendations delivered to policy makers and stakeholders.

 Find out more here...

Bratislava pilot area

Bratislava Pilot area

Pilot area Wałbrzych / Broumov
Area: 1,245 km2
Population: 240,000

PL flag

CZ flag

The transboundary Wałbrzych / Broumov pilot area (Poland, Czechia) covers 1,245 km2 in the Sudety Mts and is characterized by very complex geological structure comprising several units made of metamorphic, volcanic and sedimentary rocks. This mountainous area with around 240,000 inhabitants, once a coal mining industrial district, is today focusing on tourism based on local landscape attractions and clean air. These conditions imply to enhance utilization of ground source heat pumps as energy sources in the investigated area.

Find out more here

Wałbrzych – Broumov pilot area

Geological map of Wałbrzych – Broumov Pilot area

Pilot area Vogtland / W – Bohemia
Area: 1,900 km2
Population: 97,355

DE flag

CZ flag

The Vogtland / W – Bohemia pilot area (Germany, Czechia) is a transboundary area located in the SW Saxon part of the Vogtland region and extends to the most western part of Bohemia. The pilot area is especially suitable for using geothermal energy, since the Eger valley corresponds to a lithospheric uplift which causes geothermal gradients twice as high as in the surrounding regions. The deeply circulating water in this tectonically active region forms thermal and mineral springs. The usage of this balneal water is in conflict with the geothermal usage, such that a detailed study of land-use conflicts is necessary, when a strategy of geothermal energy supply is established. The central part of the pilot area close to state border consists of a mountain range. In its foothills, many small towns and villages are located on the both sides of the border. The infrastructural development of this region can significantly benefit from the usage of shallow geothermal energy.

Find out more here


Vogtland landscape, photo by Karina Hofmann

Deliverables and publications

You are invited to take a look and download the following project deliverables:

e-Newsletter No. 4 (D.C.2.2)

Handbook for a successful implementation of Shallow Geothermal Energy in English (D.C.2.3), German, Polish, Slovakian, Slovenian and Czech language

The GeoPLASMA-CE position paper to foster the use of shallow geothermal in Central Europe in English (D.C.2.3) and German language 

Strategy report for future energy planning and management concepts to foster the use of Shallow Geothermal methods (D.T4.4.1)

Catalogue of success criteria for a sustainable management of shallow geothermal use or Erfolgsfaktoren für ein nachhaltiges Management oberflächennaher Erdwärme (D.T2.5.1)

Catalogue of reviewed quality standards, current policies and regulations concerning shallow geothermal energy systems (D.T2.4.2)

Summary report on existing energy planning strategies in the EU considering the use of shallow geothermal energy + Appendix (D.T4.1.3)

e-Newsletter No. 3 (D.C.2.2)

Joint report on the user demands and barriers for the implementation of shallow geothermal methods in energy planning strategies (D.T4.1.2)

Summary of national legal requirements, current policies and regulations of shallow geothermal use (D.T2.4.1)

3D Modelling workshop in Prague (D.T3.3.1)

Knowledge exchange workshop on legal requirements, procedures and policies in Salzburg (D.T2.4.3)

e-Newsletter No. 2 (D.C.2.2)

Knowledge exchange workshop on integration of shallow geothermal energy use in local energy planning in Munich (D.T4.1.5)

Joint report on chosen approaches and methods for calibration (DT3.5.1)

GeoPLASMA-CE Data structure (D.T2.3.1)

Synopsis of conflict mapping (D.T2.2.3) 

Synopsis of geothermal mapping methods for open loop systems (D.T2.2.2)

Synopsis of geothermal mapping methods for closed loop systems (D.T2.2.2)

Synopsis of geological 3D modelling methods (D.T2.2.1)

Whitebook of the international expert platform (D.T1.4.1)

Whitebook of the decision support and info tool (D.T1.3.1)

Catalogue of requirements for the decision support tool (D.T1.1.2)

Catalogue of requirements for the expert platform (D.T1.2.2)

Catalogue of requirements on outcomes of stakeholder survey  (D.T2.1.2) 

Promotional leaflet in English language (D.C.2.1)

Promotional leaflet in German language

Promotional leaflet in Polish language

Promotional leaflet in Slovakian language

Promotional leaflet in Slovenian language

Promotional leaflet in Czech language

e-Newsletter No. 1 (D.C.2.2)

Knowledge exchange workshop on assessment and mapping methods in Essen (D.T2.2.4)



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Start Date

1 july 2016

End Date

30 september 2019


GeoTHERM conference and fair in Offenburg, February 2019
Geothermal Congress in Essen, November 2018
5. Slovenian Geological Congress in Velenje, October 2018
National stakeholder's event in Krakow, October 2018
Borehole heat exchangers – current state, barriers and development in Poland, May 2018
EUropa in Wien, May 2018
4. meeting of the European GeoModelling Community, March 2018
26. Meeting of the German Association for Hydrogeology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, March 2018
Workshop “New horizons in geological and geo‑environmental monitoring”
, March 2018
GeoTHERM expo & congress in Offenburg, March 2018
Meeting with stakeholders of the Wałbrzych pilot area, November 2017
Knowledge exchange workshop in Salzburg, November 2017
Climathon 2017 in Krakow, October 2017
Renexpo® Poland fair and VI. PORT PC congress, October 2017
Summary Conference of GeoHeatPol project, October 2017
Networking of Geothermal4PL  and GeoPLASMA-CE in Checiny, October 2017
Knowledge exchange workshop in Munich, September 2017
  National stakeholders's event in Ljubljana, August 2017
 Important visit from Brussels, June 2017
GeoPLASMA-CE at Geothermal Technology Workshop in Brussels, June 2017
GeoPLASMA-CE lecture at TU Bergakademie Freiberg, June 2017
geoENERGIE Tag 2017 in Freiberg, May 2017
Mapping and Assessment Workshop at the DGK in Essen, December 2016
International conference on heat pumps ZEO 2016 in Ljubljana, November 2016
The GeoPLASMA-CE Polish kick-off workshop, November 2016
5th Polish Geothermal Congress, October 2016
Kick-Off Meeting at the European Geothermal Conference in Strasbourg, September 2016