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Swiss Thurgau is getting serious on geothermal development

Steckborn, Kanton Thurgau, Switzerland (source: flickr/ dmytrok, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 16 Jul 2012

The Swiss canton of Thurgau looks at a support mechanism program to drive geothermal development for power generation, heating and shallow heat pump applications.

Reported in late June in Switzerland the region (Kanton) of Thurgau is looking to make development of geothermal projects easier. The regional government just published a utilization concept with the vision of at least one geothermal power plant having been built within the next 10 years.

But the region looks at support of all geothermal utilization forms, from the geothermal heat pumps for individual residences to deep geothermal development for e.g. district heating.

The Kanton is not looking at developing these projects on its own but is expecting investors to step in, e.g. EKT or Axpo AG for the planned power plant. The regional government is planning a bundle of 16 different measures targeting legal security, information and governmental incentives/ support.

Concretely investors should be aware of the requirements there are for drilling for which a concession from the Kanton is necessary. In some areas  there are limitations to the depth that can be drilled given existing nuclear waste storage facilities under ground. The Kanton further will be providing geological data to investors, to make an evaluation of economic feasibility easier. Governmental incentives and support are also to be provided for investors to start development.

While the support of shallow geothermal development for e.g. heat pumps is less difficult to set up, for deep geothermal projects targeting depths of up to 5 km need additional work. This applies both to power and heating projects, e.g. for heating of greenhouses.

If all of those measures will be implemented, one time costs of CHF 3.4 million ($3.4 million) and CHF 1 million ($1 million) are expected.

With current austerity measures there are concerns about the capabilities to finance such a project at the current time.

Source: Thurgauer Zeitung (in German)