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Geothermal schemes abandoned in Switzerland and California 14 December 2009

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There’s news that two geothermal energy schemes have been abandoned in the last few days, one in Switzerland because of safety fears, the other in California because … well, we don’t really know why: those involved are being very cagey. It seems that the triggering of more earthquake activity than expected has been a factor in both cases.

In Switzerland, deep drilling for a pilot geothermal project in Basel has caused earthquakes that have alarmed local residents and caused damage: the company involved has had to pay out 9 million Swiss Francs in compensation, and their project designer and geologist is facing court action on charges of property damage. Last week, the Swiss authorities decided enough was enough and pulled the plug on the project.

Meanwhile, at a site in northern California called the Geysers, a company called AltaRock Energy has told the US Government’s Energy Department that it is abandoning exploratory geothermal drilling, but isn’t saying exactly why, or whether the project might be resumed in the future.

The Volcanism Blog

Comments

1. Donald Holland - 15 December 2009

Could this project be the cause of the ongoing seismic swarm at the Geysers. The last 6 months have seen 1000’s of small earthquakes centered on the geothermal station. Some have been concerned that some sort of magma intrusion into the old volcano might be occurring.

If they have been disturbing the deep geothermal fluid pressures, that could explain the earthquake swarm.

2. Donald Holland - 15 December 2009

Earthquake swarm continues at present.


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