Published on May 10th, 2013 | by Jake Richardson2
$10 Million For Swiss Geothermal Exploration
Ten million Swiss francs are being donated to ETH Zurich for the creation of leadership positions in the exploration of deep geothermal technology. The donation will come from the Werner Siemens Foundation. ETH Zurich is a leading university in technology and natural sciences with about 18,000 students from all over the world. Just over twenty Nobel laureates are associated with the university. The Werner Siemens Foundation is known for its support of scientific projects and science students.
In part, their very generous donation will be used to establish two professorships in deep geothermics. Initially there will be a research focus on the availability of heated water sources at depths from three to five kilometers and types of bedrock that currently exist in Switzerland. The goal of deep geothermics research and development is to create a new stable source of renewable for the Swiss. According to one of the ETH scientists, about five to ten percent of Switzerland’s energy could be generated by deep geothermal technology.
At depths over four kilometers, fractured granites have temperatures of 150 – 200 Celsius. An artificial reservoir must be created so it can fill up with water heated by the rock. This cache of heated water is used as the basis for mechanical production of electricity. The first major challenge will be creating the first deep geothermal power plant. (Currently, no electricity in the country is generated by deep geothermal.) However, by 2030 there may be a dozen in operation.
Deep drilling is not without potential consequences – a drilling site near Basel had to be abandoned due to earthquakes caused by it.
Geothermal seems to have much less public visibility than solar and wind power. Eventually, as more press comes out about its stability and long-term viability, it may gain an equal favorability.