Switzerland's geothermal potential seen enough to replace Russian gas imports

Image by Fraunhofer-IEG. Source: www.ieg.fraunhofer.de

May 10 (Renewables Now) - Switzerland has the potential to generate at least 17 TWh of heat annually from geothermal energy which would be enough to completely replace gas imports from Russia and meet a quarter of the heat demand in the Alpine country.

Currently, geothermal heat generation in Switzerland comes mainly from the shallow area and totals 4 TWh a year but there is significant untapped potential. Scientific studies estimate the potential from medium depths alone at around 8 TWh per year. This could be developed in stages by 2050 at competitive prices for operators and end customers, according to the Swiss Geothermal Association.

The association is pushing for creating the necessary political framework conditions to support the expansion of geothermal projects as the available subsidies are considered not enough and this kind of energy is not sufficiently integrated into the energy policy of the cantons.

While geothermal power from the shallow area is currently used predominantly to heat single-family homes and buildings, the energy from the medium depths could be used to supply heating to districts, urban areas, the industry and agriculture sectors.

To tap the existing potential in medium depths, Switzerland needs to explore the underground on a national level, expand the thermal network and build geothermal plants. Based on estimates of 8 TWh per year, a total of 250 plants must be built between 2025 and 2050 which would require investments of about CHF 6 billion (USD 6.05bn/EUR 5.73bn), or CHF 240 million per year.

(CHF 1 = USD 1.009/EUR 0.956)

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