Despite the vast and largely untapped potential of geothermal energy, until now there has not been a standard global classification scheme its use. Professor Falcone, Head of Oil and Gas Engineering Centre at Cranfield University, led a Working Group that developed a scheme to help to build trust and understanding of the geothermal industry with investors, regulators and the general public. In October 2016 the classification scheme was formally adopted by the United Nations Economics Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Key Facts

    • Geothermal energy production today is only at 7% of the estimated global potential.
    • Geothermal energy exists in almost 90 countries, but only 24 of them produce electricity from geothermal sources.
    • The International Energy Agency (IEA) believes the world can increase production of heat and electricity from geothermal energy by at least 10-fold by 2050.
    • Cranfield’s Professor Falcone led a team that developed a globally-applicable, harmonised standard for reporting geothermal resources.

Impact of our research

Professor Falcone led a team that developed specifications for classifying, comparing and reporting estimates of geothermal potential, resources and reserves. Developing a universal system and terminology for geothermal energy will support business, assist with regulation, and lessen public concern around its use.

Why the research was commissioned

In an MoU signed in September 2014, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the International Geothermal Association (IGA) agreed to pursue a common goal with respect to producing a standard global classification scheme for geothermal energy consistent with the UNFC-2009 framework. It was also agreed that the IGA represents the best platform and international umbrella to develop specifications and guidelines for the application of UNFC to geothermal energy, and to maintain evergreen the texts in a manner consistent with their proper application through regular and periodic review.

Why Cranfield?

Cranfield University has considerable expertise in the area of geothermal energy, with Professor Falcone recently appointed as Head of the Oil and Gas Engineering Centre. Furthermore, as well as being the leader of the Working Group for the development of the geothermal specifications for the United Nations Framework Classification for Fossil Energy and Mineral Reserves and Resources (UNFC), Professor Falcone is a member of the following; UNECE Expert Group on Resource Classification; Renewable Reserves Taskforce; Bureau of the Expert Group on Resource Classification; International Geothermal Association (IGA); and the IGA Resources and Reserves Committee.