Using the example of geothermal energy, the GECKO project aims to test a new way of infrastructure planning for the production and use of renewable energy that better meets society’s demand for transparency and co-determination than conventional approaches. The purpose is to show how infrastructure projects that contribute to a climate-neutral energy supply can be better aligned with the ideas in society in the long-term. The project will experimentally work out how to develop and effectively apply criteria and scenarios for the use of deep geothermal energy in close cooperation between scientists, citizens, and stakeholders. This is done at the site of KIT Campus North, which is characterized by one of the largest known heat anomalies in Germany with approx. 170°C at a depth of 3 km. Building on the results of the inter- and transdisciplinary research, an implementable concept for the use of deep geothermal energy for climate-neutral heat supply of one of the largest research institutions in Europe will be developed.
The GECKO project consists of three sub-projects. While the Institute for Nuclear Waste Management of KIT carries out the scientific and engineering analyses, ITAS and the Öko-Institut e.V. examine the social science aspects. To this end, workshops with actors from the realm of practice and expert interviews are conducted at the local level to identify benchmark criteria and to develop scenarios for the use of deep geothermal energy at the KIT Campus North site. This allows setting priorities and introducing topics that are not represented in the classical scientific approaches. The tasks of ITAS include in particular the preparation and implementation of the workshops and the identification of conditions for success for a long-term use of geothermal energy oriented toward the common good. The findings from this project will be scientifically evaluated and made available to KIT and the municipalities interested in renewable heat supply as well as to decision makers in politics and industry.