• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Geneva launches hunt for geothermal sources
Photo: SIG/Géothermie 2020

Geneva launches hunt for geothermal sources

The Local · 26 Oct 2015, 22:30

Published: 26 Oct 2015 22:30 GMT+01:00

The programme is part of the 20-million-franc GEothermie 2020 project launched last year by the Services Industriels de Genève (SIG) to find naturally occurring sources of hot water beneath the earth’s surface.

Heat can be extracted from this water to power electrical power generators or to provide heating.

SIG said that initial tests last year in an eight-kilometre zone between the municipalities of Chancy and Bernex concluded that hot water is available in the Lake Geneva basin in limestone rock at levels less deep than previously thought — as little as 500 metres below ground.

The exploration involves beaming sound waves into the earth to detect, in a manner similar to sonar imaging, where the areas of hot water can be most readily accessed.

The work, which SIG said will have no harmful impact on residents, will continue through November and will then resume next year with more targeted exploration.

Countries such as Germany and Italy have pioneered the use of geothermal energy for power generation.

But currently, no electricity is being generated in Switzerland from geothermal sources, according to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE).

“One of the main obstacles to the development of this technology is the fact that very little is known as yet about the local conditions underground,” SFOE says on its website.

The Centre for Hydrology and Geothermics at the University of Neuchâtel says that generating electricity from geothermal energy requires temperatures of around 150C.

In Switzerland that means drilling down 5,000 metres, the centre said.

Individual buildings can be heated through boreholes dug to a depth of 50 to 300 metres with heat exchangers.

SIG said the potential for geothermal energy is high.

It is a source of energy that is “local, clean, renewable and continuously available” with “numerous thermal and electrical applications”.

The canton of Geneva estimates it could, over time, cover two-thirds of its heating needs through geothermal energy.

Story continues below…

SIG said developing this form of power is a priority as a way of reducing Geneva’s dependence on fossil fuels and to develop energy independence.

Geothermal energy is already used to heat more than 50,000 buildings in Switzerland, including individual homes, apartment buildings, offices and hotels.

But attempts to develop larger geothermal projects by drilling boreholes into the ground have failed in the cities of Basel and Saint Gallen.

A planned power plant in Basel was scrapped in 2009 after earlier drilling triggered earth tremors.

Saint Gallen also abandoned a geothermal project last year because of concerns about seismic risks. 

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss prisons fear drone deliveries to inmates
File photo: Nicolas Tucat/AFP

Could drones be used to deliver weapons to prisoners?

United Nations weighs in on burqini ban debate
A London demonstration against the burqini ban. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP

Burqini bans "fuel religious intolerance" says a UN spokesman.

Record numbers sign up for Swiss Erasmus replacement
File photo: Francisco Osorio

More people than ever are taking part in Switzerland’s study abroad scheme, despite the fact the country is no longer a full member of the EU’s Erasmus programme.

Search underway for pilot of Swiss jet missing in Alps
A Swiss F/A-18 Hornet jet. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The jet is believed to have crashed while taking part in a training exercise.

Why Switzerland is getting worse for expats
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Switzerland plunges 17 places in a global survey of expat life.

Swiss company's Zika test to be used in US
File photo: AFP

US regulators issue emergency authorization to use Roche's not-yet-approved diagnostic test for detecting the Zika virus.

Rising tensions spark rise in violence at asylum centres
Bags at a refugee centre in Switzerland. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Frustrations are spilling over in refugee centres in Switzerland causing an increasing number of confrontations between residents, according to reports.

Survey: majority of Swiss in favour of burqa ban
Photo: Antoine Taveneaux

More than 70 percent of Swiss want to see a ban on the burqa across Switzerland

Foreigners in Switzerland surpass 2 million mark
International flags outside the UN in Geneva. Photo: Martial Trezzini/AFP

For the first time, there are now more than two million foreigners living in Switzerland.

Geneva runs out of permits for non-EU workers
File photo: The Local

Canton complains to the federal government after it reduced the number of permits available to third state workers.

Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: Starship
Technology
Swiss Post trials robot parcel deliveries in Bern
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: AFP
Politics
Survey: Swiss optimistic about Brexit effect
Photo: Neil Heritage/Endeavour Fund
Features
Amputee's Matterhorn trek 'makes it more possible' for others
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Photo: EPFL
International
Switzerland tops global innovation table – again
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Photo: Vasily Cotovanu
National
Asylum centre plans shelved after Swiss village protests
Photo: The Local
Politics
Neuchâtel looks to boost rights for foreigners
Photo: AFP
Sport
In pictures: final day success takes Swiss to seven medals
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: AFP
National
Experts debate rail security following Swiss train attack
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
File photo: AFP
Sport
Two basejumpers die in Lauterbrunnen accidents
Photo: AFP
International
Amnesty fears for child migrants at Italian border
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Photo: AXA Winterthur
National
Report: Geneva is Swiss capital of car theft
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP
National
Top tips for watching the meteor shower in Switzerland
File photo: Andrew Turner
Technology
Swiss start-up to offer drone service to farmers
Photo: Beat Strasser
National
British quadruple amputee summits Matterhorn
Photo: Judit Klein
National
Switzerland sees rise in child victims of forced marriage
Photo: Michael Schlick/OS Muhr
National
Swiss hiker in Austria rescued after sending SOS to America
Photo: Chris Murphy
Features
14 mistakes foreigners make on moving to Switzerland
Photo: AFP
Lifestyle
Swiss resort unveils huge ‘natural’ fresco on mountain
Photo: C Sonderegger/Swiss Tourism
National
Five great Swiss traditions all expats should try
Photo: AFP
National
Confirmed cases of Zika virus soar in Switzerland
Photo: eGuide Travel
National
Prison for woman who faked Swiss airport bomb threat
Photo: AFP
Technology
Swiss solar plane completes epic round-the-world trip
4,374
jobs available