Geothermal project at Lavey-les-Bains, Switzerland unsuccessful

Geothermal project at Lavey-les-Bains, Switzerland unsuccessful Winter view of Les Bains de Lavey, Switzerland (source: Les Bains de Lavey)
Carlo Cariaga 26 Sep 2022

Flowrate of the drilled well at Lavey-les-Bains, Switzerland will not be enough to support the planned geothermal power plant. The rig will now move to the next planned site at Vinzel.

In a blow to geothermal development ambitions in the Canton of Vaud, the developer of the geothermal project in Lavey-les-Bains, Switzerland reports flow rates of the well drilled are insufficient for a successful implementation of a planned geothermal power plant. The project has been temporarily suspended as the rig moves to the next drilling site in Vinzel, another prospective site identified by a previous seismic survey campaign.

We had previously reported on the progress of the drilling for the Lavey-les-Bains project by the Alpine Geothermal Power Production (AGEPP). Drilling through the hard gneiss was a challenge that the team was able to overcome, and some planned logging measurements had to be cancelled. The temperatures that were measured at the bottom of the well exceeded expectations, but there was not enough flow to sustain geothermal power production.

“We would clearly have liked better efficiency, but that is part of the random nature of geothermal energy. At least this experience taught us quite a few things about our basement. Moreover, we have other geothermal projects to come, notably in Vinzel and Montagny-près-Yverdon.” said Vaud State Councilor Vassilis Venizelos.

“Ultimately, the goal is to produce a fifth of the canton’s heating needs with geothermal energy. To achieve this, however, we must increase the means allocated to our knowledge of the soil. In the canton of Vaud, we know that we have interesting geothermal potential. It remains to develop it. In a general way, ” said Venizelos.

Data collected from the well will prove to be valuable in characterizing the subsurface of the region. The securing of the well has been completed and the site will soon be restored.

For Geothermie Suisse, the umbrella organization for the geothermal industry in Switzerland, the outcome of the Lavey-les-Bains project proves that the risk association with exploration of the subsurface must not be carried by the business or individual developers. As Switzerland has no oil, gas, or mining tradition, there is very little information on its subsurface. Thus, the risk of failure in geothermal is higher than other renewable energies. To obtain equal treatment, the geological risk must be fully borne by the Conferederation.

Benoît Valley, full professor at the Institute of Hydrogeology and Geothermal Energy at the University of Neuchâtel, advises that the geothermal industry must persevere despite the failure at Lavey-les-Bains. “Ideally, we should persevere, since we know that in Lavey, there is water. It is used for baths. To give an order of magnitude, it is necessary to make between 5 and 7 boreholes, to have 1 or 2 of them functional. That said, the better we know the Swiss subsoil, the more effective the drilling will become.”

Source: 20 Minutes