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New findings bury Basel’s geothermal plans

The authorities in canton Basel City say they will cancel a geothermal energy project, which three years ago caused minor tremors that damaged many buildings.

This content was published on December 10, 2009 - 16:28

A risk analysis study published on Thursday found that the danger of setting off more earthquakes was too great if drilling at the site resumed.

The project was put on hold three years ago after thousands of claims for damage were filed with insurers. Total costs for the damage were around SFr9 million ($8.78 million).

The study, commissioned by the canton, concluded that Basel was “unfavourable” for geothermal power generation.

It said the resumption of Deep Heat Mining project and its operation over a 30-year period could set off around 200 tremors with a strength of up to 4.5 on the Richter Scale – in 2006, the quakes were about 3.4.

This would result in damages up to SFr40 million.

The Basel facility drilled five kilometres into the earth. The borehole was designed to be injected with water to capture the extreme heat. Back at the surface, the hot water – at a temperature of around 160° Celsius - would run a steam turbine coupled with a generator.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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