Joint synthesis “Geothermal Energy” of the NRP “Energy”

The picture shows geothermal sources.

The Swiss underground offers a multitude of opportunities for supporting the implementation of Energy Strategy 2050.

Near-to-surface geothermal energy with heat pumps is state of the art and is already widespread in Switzerland. In the future energy system, medium-deep to deep geothermal energy (1 to 6 kilometres) will, in addition, play an important role. To the forefront is the supply of heat for buildings and industrial processes.

The joint project “Hydropower and geo-energy” of the NRP “Energy” focused on the question of where suitable ground layers can be found in Switzerland that optimally meet the requirements for the various uses. A second research priority concerned measures to reduce seismicity induced by deep drilling and the resulting damage to buildings. Models and simulations were also developed which contribute to a better understanding of the underground processes involved in the development and use of geothermal resources.

In summary, the research results show that there are good conditions in Switzerland for the use of medium-deep geothermal energy (1 to 3 kilometres) – both for the building stock and for industrial processes. There are also grounds for optimism concerning the seasonal storage of heat and gases. In contrast, the potential for the definitive storage of CO2 in relevant quantities is rather limited. With respect to electricity production using deep geothermal energy (> 3 kilometres), the extent to which there is potential to exploit the underground economically is still not absolutely certain. In this regard, industrially operated demonstration plants are urgently needed in order to boost acceptance among the population and investors.