The implementation of the German Federal Government's climate and energy policy goals, which encompass a gradual expansion of the share of renewable energies (wind, solar energy) and a commensurate reduction in electricity produced from fossil fuels (coal) and nuclear energy, will put higher pressure on energy related underground technologies. The expansion of renewable energies requires sufficient storage capacity for excess energy in the geological underground as well as ancillary sources of power to compensate for energy fluctuations, thereby ensuring grid stability.
While in the past the predominant uses of underground space were the mining of raw materials and the extraction of groundwater, in future we can expect a rising demand for energy-related utilizations such as the exploitation of geothermal energy or underground energy storage (i.e. natural gas, compressed air, hydrogen). Other underground utilizations such as the permanent storage of CO2 (as an industrial by-product) or the application of hydraulic fracturing in order to release natural gas deposits are other likely areas of conflict regarding underground space that will potentially increase pressure on this valuable resource.
This implies a growing need for coordination of underground utilizations through an underground spatial planning.
The geological, spatial planning and the regulatory framework of subterranean spatial planning was examined in IOER during the previous research project "Subterranean spatial planning – proposals to improve the above ground and underground information, to develop the planning instruments and to provide for sustainable solutions of conflicting use". Based on these results, the current research project investigates the practical implementation of a sustainable, resource saving subterranean spatial planning in model regions.