Thursday, December 10, 2009

Geothermal project geologist charged with creating earthquakes

The troubling news out of Switzerland this afternoon is that the geologist on a deep geothermal drilling project in Basel will stand trial for property damage because small earthquakes are believed to have been caused by the project. Press reports say he could go to prison for 5 years. His employer, Geopower Basel has paid out $9 million in claims for damages to buildings. [right, East-West cross section through Rhine graben at Basel. Credit, Geopower Basel]

The pilot project was intended to be the first commercial development of the Enhanced Geothermal System concept where water would be injected into deep (3 miles or more) hot rocks (around 200 C) where it would be heated and returned to the surface to generate electricity.

Switzerland cancelled the project today although similar projects are underway in other cities that are viewed as not as seismically active.

How much of a chill is this action going to put on the geothermal industry?

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