Special Report: LNEG: a pillar in energy and geology

LNEG1LNEG researches, demonstrates and transfers knowledge in energy and geology for better decision and policy making, enhancing the economy and mitigating investment risks. Networking capacity is our strength in constructing robust applications to financing instruments, namely the European programme for financing innovation and science, Horizon 2020, which aims to ensure competitiveness and sustainable growth in Europe. The involvement of LNEG in international partnerships makes it an ideal partner for fostering internationalisation and a preferred source of information in the relevant areas of expertise. LNEG therefore collaborates as a consultant for public policies in the areas of energy and geology.


In this regard we value our participation in the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA – www.eera-set.eu) as a co-ordinating energy research group for a low carbon Europe. In this way, EERA contributes to a massive public research effort to develop more efficient and cheaper low carbon energy technologies, and, through its joint programmes, EERA contributes to ensuring that annual investment in low carbon technologies is spent on the best possible solutions available. Amongst our main focus areas we can list wind turbines and solar panels, smart cities and smart grids, energy from the oceans and underground heat sources, storage, use and energy waste prevention.

In the field of energy, LNEG guarantees the most up-to-date knowledge of renewable energy resources (bioenergy, solar and wind, for example) and energy efficiency. In this topic we embrace the ideas behind smart cities and nearly zero-energy buildings.


Likewise, our commitment to EuroGeoSurveys (www.eurogeosurveys.org), the geological surveys of Europe, involves contributions to the work and research of several thousand experts in Europe carrying out operations in the field of geosciences. As examples of these activities we may name: the use and management of natural resources; the identification of natural hazards of geological origins; environmental management, waste management and disposal; land use planning; sustainable urban development and safe construction; e-government and access to geoscientific data and metadata; and the development of interoperable and harmonised geoscientific data at the European level.

For geology, LNEG guarantees the most up-to-date knowledge of mining, whilst maintaining the functions of geological surveys, to support policies from the characterisation and interpretation of geological structures (geological mapping), resource management, the prevention of natural risks, the environment and management of the territory.

LNEG also maintains a web platform for the management, visualisation and availability of geo-referenced information in the fields of energy and geology – important infrastructures of information regarding national territories (geoportal.lneg.pt).

LNEG is a key player in providing geological information and knowledge to support the local territory master plans, and is an institutional player in the legal processes of the environmental impact assessment concerning any project dealing with the territory:

– Geology – lithology and stratigraphy for subsoil characterisation;

– Geomorphology – understanding the shape of topography;

– Hydrogeology – preserving the aquifers;

– Coastal geology – monitoring the evolution of coastal areas;

– Vulnerability of the subsoil for each type of land use;

– Geological hazards;

– Geological resources preservation; and

– Geological and natural heritage inventory.

Underground energy resources introduce us to geothermic energy, which we highlight in the context of the partnership between LNEG, as a knowledge centre in its role as geological surveyor, and the municipality of Lisbon, Portugal.

The project Alfama – GeoAlfama

The existence of numerous springs in Alfama, Lisbon, has been widely documented since Roman times. Some have thermal and/or minerals features, but, nowadays, there are no remains of these springs or any others in the zone that have similar characteristics. Researchers Rayco Marrero-Diaz and E C Ramalho conducted a study focused on the geochemical characteristics of the springs (in press) in an attempt to obtain a conceptual, hydrogeological model and assess their potential as hydromineral or geothermal resources. Water from Alfama showed HCO3-Cl-Ca-Na hydrochemical facies and similar low-medium mineralisations with temperatures ranging from 15-32ºC. This suggests a common origin and different mixing degrees, with locally recharged cold and contaminated waters. Geothermometer calculations indicate equilibrium temperatures between 30-85ºC. Assuming the regional geothermal gradient, they indicate circulation depths between 500 and 3,000 metres. Based on the results, the expectation for their use as hydromineral resources is low, but there is a good potential for low enthalpy resources. This feature can be interesting in the energy city mix.

The Madeira Island Project – high enthalpy

The available geological data on Madeira Island indicates good conditions for the search of heat sources at exploitable depths for electricity production. We carried out a previous study for the evaluation of the geothermal potential of Madeira with the objective of defining the most favourable areas for the existence of geothermal reservoirs.

Accordingly, studies were carried out in geology, mineral chemistry, hydrogeology, magnetometry and gravimetry, remote sensing thermometry, and tomography of seismic noise. The results obtained by these indirect methods pointed to at least one anomalous zone at depth, coincident with all the geophysical methods used, possibly favourable for geothermal exploration. We are planning to proceed with further geophysical exploration to measure the different conductivities of rock materials at depth. This could confirm the existence of deep structures with geothermal implications and better define the geometries of the various projected geological structures in order to identify the most favourable sites for drilling, in order to directly obtain geothermal parameters or reservoir confirmation in the latter phases of the project.


Teresa Ponce de Leão
+351 210924608