Geothermal energy a reality as Antwerp dig exceeds expectations

Summary

Tech research institute Vito has announced the exceptionally successful results of its initial dig to determine the possibility of geothermal energy production in Antwerp province

Second dig to begin

The drilling for a geothermal energy study carried out by the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (Vito) has delivered results that far exceed what was expected.

Over the last several months, drilling at the Balmatt site in Mol (pictured) has penetrated a layer in the subsurface 3,610 metres deep that contains hot water. Experts were tasked with examining the water’s temperature and flow rate to determine possibilities for the extraction of geothermal energy.

The water turns out to have a temperature of 138 degrees Celsius, 20 degrees higher than the minimum temperature necessary for the conversion of geothermal heat to electricity. A minimum of 90 degrees Celsius is necessary to use it for heating purposes. The flow rate of the water is also better than expected.

Vito will now start drilling a second well, to test the operations of a geothermal power plant. A geothermal plant requires production wells to pump hot water to the surface and injection wells to dispose of cooled water. This second well should be finished by the end of the year.

If the second drill is also successful, plans will be made to carry out four additional drills. With six wells, Vito can set up a geothermal power plant that produces five megawatts of electricity.

The wells would produce enough heat for 900,000 homes in 45 municipalities in Antwerp and Limburg provinces, as well as area industry. Vito would offer residents of Dessel and Mol the opportunity to heat their homes at a stable cost of €120 per month for 20 years.

Photo courtesy Vito

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (Vito)

Vito is an independent research organisation focusing on technological solutions to sustainable challenges. Its five main research areas are sustainable chemistry, energy, health, materials and land use.
EnergyVille - Together with the university of Leuven and IMEC, Vito founded EnergyVille, a research institute focusing on sustainable energy and intelligent energy systems.
Green - Through its promotion centre, Prodem, the institute has helped 700 small businesses find and develop more sustainable production methods.
Frontrunner - Vito is a European leader in the processing of hyperspectral images and the development of compact camera systems for earth observation.
71

PhD researchers

700

employees

126

million euros resource budget