Geothermal for Agriculture

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Geothermal for agriculture involves utilizing geothermal energy to provide heat for various agricultural applications, such as greenhouse heating, soil warming, aquaculture, and crop drying. This technology offers a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting energy independence in the agricultural sector.

Impact on climate action

Geothermal for Agriculture harnesses the Earth’s heat to optimize agricultural practices, reducing reliance on fossil fuels. By providing sustainable heating and cooling solutions, this innovation enhances crop yields, promotes food security, and mitigates carbon emissions, contributing to climate resilience and sustainable agriculture in the face of climate change.


  • Geothermal Energy Source: Geothermal energy can be sourced from various types of geothermal resources, including hydrothermal reservoirs, EGS (Enhanced Geothermal Systems), and shallow geothermal energy.
  • Heat Exchangers: Heat exchangers transfer heat from the geothermal fluid to the desired application, such as greenhouse heating systems or aquaculture ponds.
  • Direct Use or Binary Cycle Systems: Geothermal energy can be used directly for low- to moderate-temperature applications or converted into electricity using binary cycle power plants for higher-temperature applications.
  • Greenhouse Heating: Geothermal energy can be used to heat greenhouses, extending the growing season and enabling the production of crops year-round.
  • Soil Warming: Geothermal heat can be used to warm the soil, promoting earlier planting and faster crop growth.
  • Aquaculture: Geothermal energy can be used to maintain optimal water temperatures in aquaculture ponds, improving fish and shellfish growth rates.
  • Crop Drying: Geothermal heat can be used to dry crops, preserving them and extending their shelf life.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Geothermal Technologies: Innovations in geothermal technologies, such as EGS and closed-loop geothermal systems, are expanding the potential for geothermal energy utilization in agricultural applications.
  • Low-Temperature Geothermal Resources: Utilizing low-temperature geothermal resources for agricultural applications can be cost-effective and efficient, especially for greenhouse heating and soil warming.
  • Geothermal Heat Pumps: Heat pumps can be used to upgrade the temperature of geothermal fluids, making them suitable for higher-temperature agricultural applications.
  • Cascaded Utilization of Geothermal Energy: Cascaded systems utilize geothermal fluids at different temperatures for multiple applications, maximizing energy efficiency and resource utilization.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Greenhouse Heating Solutions
  • Soil Warming Technologies
  • Aquaculture Temperature Control
  • Crop Drying Innovations
  • Advanced Geothermal Technologies for Agriculture
  • Low-Temperature Geothermal Applications
  • Geothermal Heat Pumps for Agriculture
  • Cascaded Geothermal Energy Systems
  • Geothermal Energy for Crop Growth Optimization
  • Geothermal Heat Exchangers for Agricultural Use
  • Geothermal Energy Utilization in Crop Preservation

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. U.S. Geothermal Inc.:
    • Technology Enhancement: U.S. Geothermal Inc. focuses on developing and operating geothermal power plants for electricity generation. While their primary focus is on renewable energy production, their geothermal resources can also be utilized for agricultural applications such as greenhouse heating and soil warming. Geothermal heat can be circulated through pipes to provide consistent and sustainable heating for greenhouses, enhancing crop growth and extending growing seasons.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: U.S. Geothermal Inc. stands out for its expertise in geothermal energy development and its potential to leverage geothermal resources for agricultural purposes. By integrating geothermal heating systems with agricultural operations, they offer a sustainable solution for farmers looking to improve crop yields and reduce energy costs.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: U.S. Geothermal Inc. serves agricultural businesses, greenhouse operators, and farmers seeking reliable and sustainable heating solutions. Their geothermal systems can benefit a wide range of crops, including fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs, by providing optimal growing conditions regardless of external weather conditions.
  2. Ormat Technologies:
    • Technology Enhancement: Ormat Technologies is a global leader in geothermal energy production and innovation. While their primary focus is on geothermal power generation, they also provide geothermal heating solutions that can be adapted for agricultural applications. Ormat’s geothermal systems utilize heat pumps or direct geothermal wells to extract heat from the Earth’s subsurface and deliver it to greenhouses or soil, creating favorable conditions for plant growth.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Ormat Technologies stands out for its extensive experience in geothermal energy development and its commitment to sustainable solutions. Their geothermal heating systems offer a reliable and renewable alternative to conventional heating methods, providing farmers with a cost-effective way to enhance agricultural productivity while reducing carbon emissions.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Ormat Technologies serves agricultural enterprises, greenhouse operators, and farmers seeking efficient and eco-friendly heating solutions. Their geothermal systems can be customized to meet the specific needs of different crops and growing environments, helping farmers optimize yields and profitability.
  3. Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership (GGP):
    • Technology Enhancement: The Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership (GGP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting geothermal heating solutions for greenhouse agriculture. Based in Colorado, USA, GGP collaborates with local communities, government agencies, and industry partners to develop geothermally heated greenhouses for year-round crop production. Their projects demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of using geothermal energy for agricultural purposes.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: GGP stands out for its grassroots approach to advancing geothermal agriculture and its focus on community engagement and education. By showcasing the potential of geothermal heating systems in greenhouse operations, they empower local farmers and communities to adopt sustainable agricultural practices and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: GGP serves farmers, community organizations, and agricultural stakeholders interested in implementing geothermal heating solutions for greenhouse cultivation. Their projects offer practical insights and resources for transitioning to geothermal energy, supporting regional food security, economic development, and environmental stewardship.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Oregon Institute of Technology:
    • Research Focus: Oregon Institute of Technology is renowned for its research on integrating geothermal energy with agricultural practices, focusing on leveraging the thermal resources for enhancing crop production, greenhouse heating, and soil nutrient management.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of geothermal heating and cooling systems tailored for agricultural applications, including closed-loop heat exchange systems, geothermal heat pumps, and underground thermal energy storage. They also explore the use of geothermal fluids for soil sterilization, weed control, and aquaculture in geothermally active regions.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in greenhouse farming, hydroponics, and controlled environment agriculture. By harnessing geothermal energy for agricultural purposes, Oregon Tech’s research supports sustainable food production, climate resilience, and energy efficiency in rural communities.
  2. Cornell University:
    • Research Focus: Cornell University conducts pioneering research on the intersection of geothermal energy and agriculture, exploring innovative approaches for utilizing geothermal resources to enhance crop yields, extend growing seasons, and mitigate climate risks.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of geothermal heating and cooling systems integrated with agricultural facilities, including greenhouses, nurseries, and livestock barns. They also investigate the potential for using geothermal heat for soil sterilization, pest management, and thermal processing of agricultural products.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in sustainable farming practices, renewable energy integration, and rural development. By combining geothermal energy with agriculture, Cornell’s research contributes to improving farm productivity, reducing energy costs, and promoting climate-smart agriculture practices.
  3. Wageningen University & Research:
    • Research Focus: Wageningen University & Research is at the forefront of research on geothermal energy for agriculture, focusing on optimizing the use of geothermal resources to support agricultural production, greenhouse gas mitigation, and land-use planning.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves conducting feasibility studies, resource assessments, and environmental impact assessments for integrating geothermal energy with agricultural activities. They also develop decision support tools, modeling frameworks, and best practices guidelines for farmers, policymakers, and industry stakeholders.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in sustainable land management, rural electrification, and climate adaptation. By promoting the adoption of geothermal technologies in agriculture, Wageningen’s research contributes to enhancing food security, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and fostering rural development in geothermally active regions.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Geothermal energy is already being used for agricultural applications in various regions around the world, particularly in areas with abundant geothermal resources. For example, Iceland utilizes geothermal energy extensively for greenhouse heating, enabling year-round production of vegetables and other crops.