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Sustainability report 19/20

Sustainable energy mining

Besides research and development work related to new technologies, our strategy also focuses on the sustainable use of reservoirs and production sites.

Our subsurface engineering expertise, technological capabilities and innovative capacity have allowed us to develop an approach that we refer to as “sustainable energy mining” at RAG’s energy centres.

Existing production infrastructure, pore reservoirs, above-ground facilities and pipeline systems will be put to efficient use and expanded, and operations at these sites will increasingly become climate-neutral. This strategy is centred on the sustainable after-use of natural reservoirs in porous geological strata (pore reservoirs).

Each of our reservoirs and all disused oil wells are evaluated to assess their long-term suitability for energy storage, green gas production or geothermal projects. A large proportion of our natural gas reservoirs have already been converted into storage facilities for natural gas and other energy forms – the safest, most efficient and most environmentally friendly type of energy storage.

Serving as one-stop shops, RAG’s energy centres will not only be used for the seasonal storage of zero-emission, carbon-neutral green energy; they will also produce and convert energy, utilise it on site, and make it available for use in the generation of electricity and heat, and in industry and transportation.

We plan to make sustainable use of underground production sites, as well as disused sites including the available infrastructure. From 2021, we will transform these locations into solar energy plants equipped with photovoltaic systems. The electricity generated during the summer is used directly to meet our own power requirements, or alternatively converted into hydrogen, stored in our gas reservoirs and used in winter for the carbon-neutral operation of drive units at our storage facilities. This approach will be gradually rolled out to all of RAG’s storage facilities and other plants in line with our 25/30/40 objectives, meaning that all of our operations will be emission-free, carbon-neutral and supplied exclusively with eco-friendly green energy.

This is the key to a future of clean and completely reliable energy supplies. Combining traditional gas storage – which has been our core business for decades – with renewables unlocks the difficulties associated with energy storage and creating needs-based structures on an industrial scale, while also protecting the climate and the environment for future generations.

Bruck geothermal project – sustainable energy from below ground

After three years of construction, the geothermal plant built by our subsidiary Silenos has entered operation and since January 2021 has been producing renewable, sustainable electricity from the deep geothermal well.

With a capacity of up to 4.9 MWe (electricity) and 6.88 MWth (heat), the plant can supply up to 14,000 households with renewable electricity every year, reducing CO2 emissions by as much as 23,500 tonnes a year. Geothermal production of power and heat is capable of covering baseload demand, and the energy is available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, whatever the weather. One of the unique features of this geothermal project is the type of cooling – based on a continuous-flow water cooling system, it allows for significantly more efficient production processes and the conversion of more energy from the thermal water into electricity, while at the same time keeping the plant’s own power requirements to a minimum.

This is why one of our priorities is continuing to support this form of renewable energy, for instance as a consultant on Wien Energie’s GeoTief project, by building on the expertise we have gained from drilling countless deep wells over the years.