Simplified life cycle assessment (LCA) tools to assess the environmental impacts of deep geothermal energy plants are under development by the European Union-funded GEOENVI project. These methods are designed to help prospective deep geothermal energy project developers evaluate the environmental performance of a planned project relative to fossil fuel-based alternatives.

Simplified models are available to estimate the environmental impacts for different types of geothermal installations over their life cycle. The LCA tools cover combined heat and power geothermal plant with low direct emissions and enhanced geothermal systems for heat generation with very low direct emissions. Modeling systems are also applicable to geothermal flash power plants producing electricity and a limited amount of heat from a geothermal source with moderate to high content of non-condensing gases composed mostly of carbon dioxide, and to heat production plants including a demonstration organic ranking cycle generating electricity for self-consumption with very low emissions.

Each LCA model describes impacts on climate change, freshwater ecotoxicity, freshwater and terrestrial acidification, mineral and metal resource depletion, fossil resource depletion, human non-carcinogenic effects and human carcinogenic effects.

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