Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy – energy from the earth’s interior – is today already widely used in Switzerland. The potential for the future is enormous.

Leukerbad thermal baths
In the Leukerbad thermal baths, the pleasant forms of geothermal energy can also be experienced in Winter.
© Leukerbad tourism

Summary

In contrast to Iceland, there is no active volcanism in Switzerland. While in the island nation it is already boiling on the surface at many places, here you first encounter raised temperatures of around 200 °C only at a depth of about 5000 meters. Nevertheless, the use of emission-free geothermal energy in Switzerland is becoming more important and displays an enormous future potential. Thanks to the latest technologies, high temperatures are today no longer required to extract geothermal energy. In addition, it is technically possible to access and tap rock masses with high temperatures, even at great depths.

Use of geothermal energy in Switzerland

In Switzerland geothermal energy is used mostly for heating purposes by means of geothermal probes (downhole heat exchangers), groundwater wells and geostructures such as foundation piles or slurry walls. In the future, electricity should also be generated on a larger scale from deeper lying geothermal energy. 

Drilling to install a geothermal probe
Drilling to install a geothermal probe at a constuction site of a residential development
© Geothermal Explorers International Ltd, 2008

Who is who

The most important federal offices, universities and project pages on the topic of geothermal energy:

The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), in the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), is the competence center for questions on energy supply and usage.

Swiss Federal Office of Energy
Mühlestrasse 4
CH-3063 Ittigen
Tel. +41 31 322 56 11
Fax +41 31 323 25 00

Website
Contact 

The cantons usually grant the permits for geothermal energy projects. Here you will find links to the relevant cantonal authorities with information on the laws and regulations. Links to cantonal offices.

The aim of the Schweizerischen Vereinigung für Geothermie (SVG-SSG) is to promote geothermal energy usage in Switzerland. The association aims to educate the public on the benefits of geothermal energy and make known its types of uses.

Schweizerische Vereinigung für Geothermie
Zürcherstrasse 105
CH-8500 Frauenfeld
Tel. +41 52 721 79 02

Website
E-Mail 

The Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien und Energieeffizienz (AEE), on behalf of the federal government, promotes a Swiss energy supply that is more strongly based on CO2-neutral, low-risk and sustainable sources.

Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien und Energieeffizienz
Falkenplatz 11
Postfach
CH-3001 Bern
Tel. +41 31 301 89 62
Fax +41 31 313 33 22
Website
E-Mail

CREGE is a laboratory of the Institute for The Centre for Hydrogeology and Geothermics (CHYN), University of Neuchâtel. The laboratory conducts scientific research and education in the field of geothermal energy. It also provides assistance for projects in the planning and execution phase.

Swiss Laboratory for Geothermics - CREGE
CHYN, Univ. de Neuchâtel
rue Emile–Argand 11
CH-2000 Neuchâtel
Tel. +41 32 718 26 00
Website
Contact
 

The city of St. Gallen has, with the Energiekonzept 2050 project, developed a strategy for a sustainable heat supply that should significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

Website 

Geopower Basel AG was founded in February 2004. Founding members include Industriellen Werke Basel (IWB), Elektra Baselland (EBL), Gasverbund Mitteland AG (GVM AG) and Geothermal Explorers Ltd. The aim of Geopower Basel AG is the preparation of a project for the use of geothermal energy in Basel (Deep Heat Mining).

Geopower Basel AG
Margarethenstrasse 40
CH-4002 Basel
Tel. +41 61 275 97 50
Fax +41 61 275 54 10
Website
E-Mail 

Swiss researchers are also participating in the European Union’s large-scale geothermal project. The project examines the possibilities of using geothermal energy in regions where the Earth’s crust is thin for example, the Upper Rhine Plain. Here the temperature gradient towards the Earth’s interior is stronger than in the Swiss Plateau. As a result, suitable temperatures are encountered at shallower depths.

Géothermie Soultz
BP40038 - Route de Soultz
F-67250 KUTZENHAUSEN
Tel. +33 3 88 80 53 63
Fax +33 3 88 80 53 51

Webseite
Contact
 

Data

Information and regulations on geothermal energy is obtained from official and private sites. Associations and larger research projects also provide information.   

The federal guideline document “Wärmenutzung aus Boden und Untergrund“ should harmonize the authorization process for geothermal probes, groundwater heat pumps, geothermal baskets and geothermal piles in Switzerland. In addition, the necessary protective measures, based on the Water Protection Act, are stipulated therein. The deep geothermal wells do not form part of the guidelines; their authorization must be individually considered. The guidelines are primarily aimed at the management authorities and professionals in the geothermal energy utilization field, but also at potential developers.

On its website, the SFOE provides general information on the topic of energy, with diverse details on renewable energy, including geothermal energy. 

The cantons usually grant the permits for geothermal energy projects. Here you will find links to the relevant cantonal authorities with information on the laws and regulations.

The SGTK has described the geothermal resources of the Swiss Plateau in two publications:

  • C. Baujard, S. Signorelli & T. Kohl. Atlas des ressources géothermiques de la Suisse. Domaine Sud-Ouest du Plateau Suisse, 2007.
  • S. Signorelli, T. Kohl. Geothermischer Ressourcenatlas der Nordschweiz. Gebiet des nördlichen Schweizer Mittellandes, 2007.

  • To the Swiss Geotechnical Commission

The website of the Schweizerischen Vereinigung für Geothermie (SVG-SSG) provides much in the way of general and specific information on the topic geothermal energy in Switzerland.

The website of the Agentur für erneuerbare Energien und Energieeffizienz (AEE) provides mainly links and fundamental information on the topic of renewable energies.

The CREGE website provides at lot of fundamental information on the subject of geothermal energy.

The website offers exciting information on the geothermal project in St. Gallen, from project to execution phase.

On the Geopower Basel AG website you can learn a lot about, in the meanwhile provisionally suspended, project for utilizing geothermal energy in Basel (Deep Heat Mining).

You can find something exciting on the European geothermal research project in Soultz-sous-Forêts in France under:


Energie

Swiss Geotechnical Comission (SGTK) c/o ETH Zurich
NO F35
Sonneggstrasse 5
CH-8092 Zurich
Tel.
+41 44 632 37 28

E-Mail


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