German utilities EnBW and MVV applying for Upper Rhine geothermal exploration permit

Orangerie, Schloss Schwetzingen, Germany (source: flickr/ stanzebla, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 24 Nov 2019

German utilities EnBW and MVV Energie have secured a geothermal exploration permit for a 270 sq. km area in the Upper Rhine area in the South of Germany. The companies plan the development of a heating project.

As reported by our German partner website, TiefeGeothermie, the consortium consisting of EnBW and MVV has applied to the mining authorities in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg in Freiburg for the 270 sq. kilometer “Hardt” geothermal exploration license south of Mannheim. In this field is also the geothermal well of Brühl, as well a large district heating line of both companies crosses the license area.

“The Upper Rhine Graben is an area in Germany with a particularly attractive amount of natural geothermal energy. The authorities in Freiburg are responsible for the development of this heat potential. It has released the license for the field, Hardt ‘(formerly, Schwetzingen’) for to be awarded again. For the region, this does not raise the question of whether the permit will be reassigned but to whom, “says a statement by the consortium of EnBW and MVV Energie to local paper Schwetzinger Zeitung.

In mid-September, EnBW and MVV Energie submitted a permit application together with the state mining authority. According to the State authorities in Freiburg, in addition to the two energy suppliers development company Deutsche Erdwärme, which already has several concessions in the Upper Rhine Graben, applied for the license.

The 270 square kilometer search area includes parts of the districts of Mannheim, Heidelberg, Brühl, Edingen- Neckarhausen, Eppelheim, Hockenheim, Ketch, Ladenburg, Oftersheim, Plankstadt, Sandhausen, Schwetzingen, Altlußheim, Neulussheim and Reilingen. A feasibility study will have to clarify to what extent the well located in Brühl can potentially be used.

There still is interest in geothermal in the city hall of Brühl: “The whole thing will take a long time. But I still stand behind geothermal energy. It was a good project with a bad company back then. This could be in a new constellation, a good project with a good company, “says Mayor Ralf Göck on request of Schwetzinger Zeitung.

The two regional utilities want to check the geothermal utilization after a possible surcharge by the mining authority open-ended, before it comes to an investment decision. Possible projects are to be implemented together with the municipalities: “In doing so, we focus on transparency, citizen participation and acceptance. For this purpose we want to develop a solution from the region for the region with communal anchoring. We want to achieve this through early, open and dialog-oriented communication and integration, “explains Roland Kress, press spokesman for MVV Energie, to the Schwetzinger Zeitung.

The focus of the companies is the decarbonisation of district heating. The companies jointly operate a district heating line, which crosses through the search field. So far, it is supplied by the coal power plant in Mannheim. Replacing it with near-CO2-free geothermal energy would contribute to achieving the climate goals and making the CO2-free heat directly usable for the population.

EnBW as a partner in the consortium also brings along a long-term geothermal experience. Since 2004, she has been involved in the further development and operation of the geothermal plant in Soultz-sous-Forêts, Alsace. Since 2005, the Karlsruhe-based company has also developed the plant in Bruchsal, which has been producing electricity since 2009 with a Kalina plant. Both systems run trouble-free.