Drilling successful of third well for Austria’s largest geothermal heating project

Ried im Innkreis, Austria (source:
Alexander Richter 26 May 2019

With the success of a third well drilled, the geothermal district heating system in Ried and Mehrnback in Austria can now expand and supply additional customers.

As reported this week from Austria, the third well for the largest geothermal heating project in the country has been successfully drilled. Already EUR 59 million have been invested into the projects that supplies heat to large parts to Ried and Mehrnbach not far from the German border in the western part of Austria.

During a pumping test, the water from more than 2,000 meters deep was found to be have a temperature of more than 100 degrees Celsius. There is now hope that in normal operations more than 100 litres/ second at a temperature of 105 centigrades can be extracted, so Helmut Binder, CEO of Energie Ried.

However, a very, very complicated notification procedure is necessary for commissioning of the operation – because of flow patterns in the deep layers, even with German authorities. According to the authority, the procedure should be started by September, until then no water can be withdrawn. Subsequently, it must also be observed how the level develops at depth – especially since no other companies such as the thermal baths in Bad Füssing may be affected.

A third well as part of Austria’s largest geothermal energy project had become necessary due to great demand. And the new well promises much greater success from the water temperature point of view than the already existing extraction source, where the water arrives at the surface at 87 centigrades – where the energy is fed into the network via heat exchangers and the geothermal water then to be reinjected through an existing well into the reservoir.

The demand is certainly very large, says Binder. Until now, it  was necessary to supplement heat by natural gas to guarantee sufficient supply and additional larger customers had to be deferred. With that new well this should be solved.

“We can now roll out expansion plans and recruit more customers. Until the results of the new deep well, we were reluctant “, so Binder on OÖN request.

There are already intensive contacts with major customers such as the hospital, army barracks and the (local) prison already exist. The newly built Maximarkt is a “fixed starter”. The Rieder outdoor pool has also recently been connected to ensure consistently pleasant water temperatures at moderate air temperatures. In addition to private connections, larger housing projects should also be connected to the grid.

In the current heating season, February was “comparatively modest”, the past few weeks better – of course from the perspective of energy providers.

Current district heating network is already 35.3 kilometers long

In Ried, 2,258 apartments, 169 detached houses and 97 commercial buildings are already being supplied with by geothermal heating. The pipeline network has meanwhile a track length of 35.3 kilometers. In 2018, 50,600,000 kWh of heat were produced, of which 10.8 percent had to be produced with natural gas due to the already high level of customer connection. Nevertheless, the CO2 savings amounted to 13,680 tonnes. The new well will help to ensure that natural gas use will be very low, even at very low temperatures. By the end of 2021, additional customers with a heat consumption of 16,500,000 kWh are to be connected.