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 Home >> Eco News >> Europe
 French pilot geothermic power from deep down
By 4ecotips
Published on March 13, 2007, 12:44 pm

But there could be mini-earthquake side effects!

According to Alison Shaw writing in French News, after ten years, the experimental geothermal; heating project at Soultz-sous-Fort in northern Alsace is ready to produce electricity in commercial amounts.

The project is based on the worlds oldest exploited oil field where the earths crust is particularly thin, making drilling easier. A pilot power station is to be built which will produce electricity from 2008.

The scheme is financed jointly by the European Union, the Agence de lEnvironment et de la Matrise de lnergie Ademe and the German ministry of the environment.

It will finally test whether or not pumping water deep into the earth and bringing it back to the surface again is a viable undertaking for producing cheap, environmentally clean electricity. The benchmark will be whether or not the system can continuously bring to the surface 35 litres of water at 175oC per second via a closed circuit.

Alison Shaw reports that Jacques Graff, co-director of the European Geothermal Project (CEIE) says: The new development was possible following the successful completion of three trial drillings at 5000m. The trials have taught us to extract calories without causing a disturbance.

Shaw explains that Graff was referring discreetly to the rather unsettling tendency of these experiments to cause minor earthquakes at Basel near the northern geothermal research site in the Rhine valley.

Graff says: At a depth of 5km there is a pressure limit that should not be exceeded otherwise we start to move the rock!

If the pilot plant is a success the plan is to build the first full-scale geothermic power plant capable of supplying people with electricity by 2015.

More information: www.edf.com

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The French project in Alsace is a ground source heat pump on a massive scale. If it works efficiently, and there is no reason to suppose that it won't, then this will be a really big advance for geothermic power.


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