Permit for larger drilling pad opens path for Eavor Loop project in Geretsried, Germany

Permit for larger drilling pad opens path for Eavor Loop project in Geretsried, Germany Drilling rig on project site of Geretsried, Bavaria/ Germany (source: Enex)
Alexander Richter 14 Dec 2020

Developer Enex and technology partner Eavor Technologies receive green light for larger drilling site and the development of its Eavor Loop approach to revitalise the Geretsried geothermal project.

After two unsuccessful wells and three years of downtime, something should happen again next year on the geothermal site at Gut Breitenbach near Gelting, Bavaria/ Germany. As reported today, by local publication Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the Geretsried city council approved an expansion of the drilling site last week. The company Enex and its Canadian partner Eavor Technologies will now try a new technology there to still generate energy from thermal water.

The first two wells showed that it is hot under Gelting, but there is not enough groundwater to operate a classic geothermal power plant there. Therefore, a so-called “Eavor Loop” is to be used, a kind of huge heat exchanger. At a depth of 2,600 meters, water is pumped through pipes around two kilometers long. The water heats up in the hot rock layers and can then be used to generate electricity.

The drilling should actually have taken place at the so-called Buchberger tip. But almost a hectare of forest would have had to be cleared there. In addition, the city council feared an unacceptable noise pollution for the nearby animal shelter. Because negotiations with a private property owner broke down, the project was about to end. The Enex company will now expand the original drilling site directly on the Breitenbach. “At first we thought it was difficult,” says managing director Robert Straubinger, but a solution has now been found.

The research project “Zokrates” funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics is still running at the old drilling site. To put it simply, it is looking for ways to keep the porous rock layers in the subsoil permeable to water without having to exert pressure on the rock. The research results should help to minimize the risk of small earthquakes in geothermal projects. However, the Zokrates experiments are to be ended in the middle of next year. Then the third geothermal attempt can start there.

Enex boss Straubinger wants to send out the applications before Christmas. He assumes that the approval will be there in spring 2021. At the end of 2021, the drilling site will then be converted to use the Eavor Loop. He hopes, says Straubinger, that the Gelting geothermal project will be a little more lucky with the third attempt. According to its own information, Enex has invested 30 million euros there since 2004. And recently intensive negotiations had to be conducted with the Canadian partner company. Because of the relocation of the drilling site to the Breitenbach, Eavor now has to dig 200 meters deeper than initially planned – and that of course also costs additional money.

Geretsried’s Mayor Michael Müller (CSU) is pleased that Enex has not given up yet. “We expressly welcome the commitment,” he says. If geothermal energy does work out, the city will benefit too. The Eavor Loop is intended to provide district heating and in this way to heat Geretsried households in an environmentally friendly manner. And the forecast electricity yield is also considerable. Enex assumes that the two planned small power plants will have a combined capacity of 60 megawatts. According to the project sponsors, around 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO?) can be saved each year through green electricity. That is about as much CO? as an airplane produces when it flies around the earth four times.

The Geretsried city council approves the expansion of the drilling site near Gelting. At the end of next year a huge heat exchanger is to be built there with the “Eavor Loop”