Geothermal power and heat project launched in Lavey-les-Bains, Switzerland

Source: AGEPP/ Régis Colombo/
Alexander Richter 19 Jun 2017

A new project has been launched at Lavey-les-Bains in the canton of Vaudoise in Switzerland, with the plan to build a geothermal power and heat plant.

A new company has been founded to exploit geothermally heated water resources in the Lavey-les-Bains area, in Vaud, Switzerland.

The company, Alpine Geothermal Power Production (AGEPP) is moving forward following completion of the feasibility study, finalisation of financing arrangements and formation of AGEPP SA. The next step will be obtaining exploration and operational authorisation from Vaud Canton, after which drilling can begin.

The AGEPP SA project is located in Lavey-les-Bains, in the Rhone valley, on one of the best known sites in Switzerland in terms of geothermal energy. The existence of a geothermal resource of importance in the region has been known since the 19th century. These are the hottest springs in Switzerland, causing the development of Lavey.

The project plans to drill to extract water at a temperature of 110 degrees Celsius with a flow rate of 40l/ s, conditions that would allow the project to operate year round. If successful it is expected that an ORC plan could provide up to 4.2 GWh gross electricity/ year and about 15.5 GWh thermal to supply the Lavey Baths with thermal water for the renewal of swimming pool water and thermal energy for the heating of pools and buildings.

This corresponds to the electricity and heat demand for about 900 households. In the longer term, it is also looked at a possible upgrade to waste heat for other uses: remote heating, fish farms, greenhouses etc.

There have already two wells been drilled to a depth of 200 m and 550 meters in 1973 and 2000. Thanks to geothermal energy, the Baths at Lavey already benefit from thermal water at an average temperature of 60 degrees Celsius.

Under the plans of the company, a single production (well known as a ‘singlet’) will raise water to the surface by drilling down as deep as 3,000 metres, in an area well known in Switzerland for its geothermal potential. This same water resource has been tapped at the Lavey thermal spa for decades based on an existing series of wells.

AGEPP SA will pump geothermal water from highly permeable rock substrate that has naturally occurring clefts to produce round-the-clock electricity for some 900 households. It will also supply thermal energy and ground-heated water to the Lavey thermal spa.

This is a highly innovative project as it contains plans to generate power from a hydrothermal reservoir – which would be a first in Switzerland. It also dovetails perfectly with the Swiss Confederation’s Energy Strategy 2050, which was approved on 21 May at a rate of 58.2% by Swiss citizens voting in a national referendum. In Vaud canton, the approval rating was 73.5%; in Valais, it was 63.4%.

The project brings together private- and public-sector shareholders, including several Western Swiss firms operating in the renewable energy field: SI-REN SA, Holdigaz SA, EOS Holding SA, Romande Energie Holding SA and CESLA SA, as well as the municipalities of Lavey-Morcles (Vaud) and Saint-Maurice (Valais). The project is also financially supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and Vaud cantonal authorities.

Scientific and financial analysis for the project – including a thorough investigation of seismic activity and potential environmental impacts – has been completed. In addition, financing arrangements have been finalised. The authorisation request, to be submitted to Vaud Canton, will cover drilling as well as the construction of surface installations to harness the geothermal energy.

The public consultation is planned for early 2018, and drilling is scheduled to start in 2019. Operations are due to begin in 2020.

Source: Company release