As part of the GEOBEST-CH research project, the Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich is using three additional measuring stations to monitor the hydrothermal geothermal project in Lavey-les-Bains (Vaud) in the Rhone Valley. One aim of this monitoring is to improve knowledge about natural, local seismicity before the borehole is sunk (work will start in 2019) and the plant becomes operational. But this monitoring should also help to detect earthquakes quickly and accurately and to clarify whether they are associated with the geothermal project or are rather of natural origin.
The company Alpine Geothermal Power Production (AGEPP) is planning a hydrothermal deep geothermal project with a borehole sunk to as far as 3,000 metres below the surface in Lavey-les-Bains (Vaud) in the Rhone Valley. The purpose of the project is to extract natural geothermally heated water from deep down in the Earth to generate electricity and heat. A special feature of the planned project is that although geothermal water is to be taken from the geological underground, it will not be pumped back down again. Instead, the cooled, purified thermal water will be piped to the Lavey hydroelectric power plant and thus end up in the River Rhone. Since most earthquakes induced by deep geothermal energy projects in the past occurred when water was injected into the geological underground, according to the operator's risk study and the assessment carried out by the canton and the SED, the risk of induced earthquakes in this project is lower than it was in previous deep geothermal projects in Basel and St. Gallen.
For further information on the geothermal project, see www.agepp.ch.