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Authorities to impose stricter rules on geothermal wells in the Netherlands

Drilling rig on site on Bergschenhoek project site, Netherlands (source: Zublin)
Alexander Richter 25 Jan 2019

The office of the State Supervision of Mines (SSM) in the Netherlands has announced that it will apply stricter geothermal rules. Under those new rules geothermal wells will be inspected more intensively and stricter requirements on those wells imposed.

The State Supervision of Mines (SSM) will apply stricter rules for geothermal projects in the Netherlands, as reported locally.

This announcement came from the office this week. ‘Geothermal energy will take off with the Climate Agreement. This must be done safely, ‘explains a spokesperson for the SSM.

The SSM announces that geothermal wells will be inspected more intensively and that it will impose stricter requirements on these wells. ‘All geothermal heat projects are related to corrosion of the well by pumping up the salt water from the subsoil,’ says the spokesperson. ‘In a few cases a well has even been shut down to prevent leakage.’

Sustainable

According to the SSM, this problem must be solved permanently. This may include coating the wells, two-walled wells or wells of different material.

However, the first option is not preferred by the SSM. ‘Anti-corrosion agents are not very durable’, the spokesman states as an objection. The government organization wants possible solutions in consultation with the sector. The new rules must apply before the end of this year.

New requirements for the well will not apply to existing geothermal projects, says the spokesperson. However, the control is being intensified here. The Netherlands currently counts 23 geothermal energy extraction sites. ‘No leaks have occurred yet’, according to the SSM.

Effective measures

Stichting Platform Geothermie, an independent non-profit platform of the Dutch geothermal industry, that works for geothermal energy in the Netherlands, says it wants to discuss effective measures. ‘It is very important on the eve of the energy transition that all forces, knowledge and expertise are bundled’, the platform responds.

The foundation points out that operators of a geothermal well control the proper functioning in various ways. These vary from well monitoring, the addition of corrosion inhibitors to sensors that register the composition of the pumped water.

Master plan

In May 2018 the ‘Master plan Geothermal energy in the Netherlands’ was presented. Attention was also paid to the growth and safety of geothermal projects. In the Climate Agreement almost a tenfold increase in the number of projects in the coming twelve years is predicted.

The SSM monitors the Dutch geothermal initiatives and advises on permit applications. Many greenhouse horticulture companies use geothermal energy.

Source: Nieuwe Oogst