A region in the north of the Netherlands studies a geothermal option

Hindeloopen, Friesland, The Netherlands (source: flickr / dassel, creative commons)

The municipality in southwest Friesland in the north of the Netherlands is investigating whether geothermal energy could be an option for its local heating service.

To make homes without natural gas, the citizens’ initiative Stichting Ontwikkeling Geothermie Friesland (STOGEF) in the Netherlands is studying the possibility of using geothermal energy from an ancient underground volcano, which is therefore of local interest. The municipality of Súdwest-Fryslan, a municipality in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands, is supporting the initiative.

At street level there is nothing to notice, but near the municipality of Bolsward there is a special heat source three kilometers underground: an ancient volcano. The geological foundation of the subsoil makes the region promising for geothermal technology. Indeed, geothermal energy requires a porous layer of sandstone through which the drilling is carried out. It is already possible to create a single heat source for potentially 5,000 homes. Further research should show whether drilling deeper into the earth can extract more heat and whether this is feasible and affordable.

The operation of the geothermal project will be entrusted to a cooperative or a municipal heating company. Residents and businesses can buy heat from them. For connection to the heating network, an ISDE subsidy of 3,325 euros is offered to owners to cover costs. In addition, the government is supporting the rental sector’s task of making rental housing natural gas free through the subsidy scheme for rental properties without natural gas (SAH).

STOGEF will mainly use the coming year for research and information. The first thing to do is find the exact location in the area around Bolsward. An exploration of technical, organizational and financial feasibility will be announced in more detail and discussions will follow with energy cooperatives regarding their participation in the project.

There are currently around 20 geothermal installations in the Netherlands, mainly used for horticulture in the Westland region. According to Jan-Dirk Jansen, professor of reservoir and control systems, dozens of additional installations are planned, and that number is expected to exceed 500 by 2030. “It’s hot water mining. You pump high temperature water and pump cold water into the ground elsewhere.

Geothermal energy is most suited to the urban environment with higher concentrations of houses which are often less insulated. “This actually applies to all houses built before the 1990s,” Jansen explains. This is not happening on a large scale yet because of the cost. These amount to 10-14 million euros per doublet (two wells).

In The South West Hague, a geothermal project was planned in January this year for 1,500 dwellings based on geothermal energy from the Ketelhuis of the Haagse Geothermal energy consortium. This project has not yet been commissioned due to a leak in the geological water system. The heating network is managed by Eneco.

Maarten Koop, project engineer at Eneco, knows the many challenges of geothermal energy: “The by-capture of formation gas, raw and odorless natural gas, is one of them. In an incident at the Trias Westland geothermal project, another gas explosion occurred on September 10, causing a sudden fire and damage to the facility. Koop: “It would be wise to treat geothermal projects like gas drilling with an accessory hot water intake. I hope for Bolsward that there is no dissolved gas in the geological water of this layer of the earth, which makes the project much more feasible and considerably safer.

Janssen: “To boost the use of geothermal energy in the coming years, planned projects can reduce costs. In this way, these projects become less dependent on grants, as they are now. ‘ Another solution, according to the professor, is to tax non-renewable energy sources more with a CO2 tax.

Source: Stadszaken

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