Great potential for geothermal energy utilisation in Munich, Germany

A recent article by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, writes that the joint seismic exploration of Erdwärme Grünwald and Stadtwerke München was very successful, at least for Pullacher Energiegesellschaft. Now several wells are planned to be drilled.

As early as the beginning of this year massive French special vehicles with powerful vibrating plates drove along roads and paths south of Munich to receive underground geological data for a seismic investigation program, the earth shook a little and clinked glasses here and there in the cupboards in peoples’ homes. Meanwhile, the first preliminary results of the seismic survey are available, and these have now triggered a quake in the business premises of the Pullacher Geothermal Society (IEP), a happy earthquake: “The seismic was very successful,” says Andreas Most, Chairman of the board of the municipal geothermal company Innovative Energy for Pullach (IEP).

 

IEP CEO Helmut Mangold explains what is meant by “very successful”: “We think in categories of four, five, six new deep wells.” Possibly you stand before a step in the direction of the largest geothermal plant in Germany, says Mangold, who like Most put emphasis on the subjunctive, because in the geothermal industry, despite the available for a few years modern 3-D technology, there are always uncertainties. And promising faults and cracks in the subterranean mountain landscape may point to hot water sources, but at first give no specific information about the thickness of the thermal deep water.

 

Mayor Susanna Tausendfreund (Green Party), Municipal Councilor and last but not least Community Chamberlain André Schneider are also awaiting more precise results of the so-called seismic campaign on a 103 square kilometer area covered by IEP Pullach, Erdwärmer Grünwald (EWG) and Stadtwerke München. They had agreed on the approach and invested up to EUR 2.5 million ($2.9m). The community, which is in the midst of a costly development process, may be in the next few years, face further investments in the order of at least EUR 120 million ($137m), should the three planned doublets be drilled on the site in Pullach.

 

According to the medium-term budget plans for the years 2019 to 2022, investments of EUR 26 million are planned for geothermal energy development. Of course, the municipality could not handle these investments alone and would need debt capital, says the IEP Supervisory Board Chairman Most, who sits as a group leader of the local party CSU in the Pullach local council and thus in a committee that has hitherto fully supported the project by IEP. This looks different in the council of the municipality of Grünwald council, due to the controversial acquisition of large parts of the geothermal activities in Unterhaching. Mayor Tausendfreund speaks of a “showcase project supported by all”. The IEP has never been a bone of contention in the local council, says Most. According to Tausendfreund, the considerations are currently even in the direction of four doublets, ergo eight deep wells to be crilled. “In just a few weeks, we’ll know if we can drill one, two or ten holes,” says Managing Director Mangold.

 

Pullach would not have to look far for customers for electricity and heat. On the one hand, they want to expand their own 35km long district heating network, with more than a thousand households connected. On the other hand, Stadtwerke München (SWM) is longing for regenerative heat in order to get closer to its “Vision 2040”.

 

Until then, SWM intends to cover 100% of Munich’s heating requirements with regenerative heat, and is currently building the largest geothermal plant in Germany with a capacity of at least 50 MW at heating power plant in Thalkirchen in the southern district of Munich, covering the heat requirement of 80,000 Munich residents. Of course, if three or even four doublets are drilled in Pullach, the IEP will have the nation’s most powerful geothermal system, especially as the wells go deeper, tapping hotter water sources.

Whether the joint seismic campaign for the Grünwalder EEC and the Munich SWM will as well be successful, will still have to be seen. A sound statement on the results of the seismic investigations is not possible before the end of the year, a SWM spokesman said. Grünwald is also still in the dark. “We do not have any results yet,” says Andreas Lederle, Managing Director of EWG. According to Helmut Mangold, the start of drilling in Pullach is expected in 2020.

Source: Sueddeutsche Zeitung

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