Within the GEOBEST2020+ framework, SED experts can provide support to the cantonal authorities from the permitting phase, through concessioning, to the regulatory oversight of geothermal projects. This includes support with:
Defining induced-seismicity-related content requirements for all relevant cantonal authorisations that are mandatory for geothermal projects
The cantons define the content requirements for permitting and concessioning applications by the operators. The SED can help authorities to implement induced-seismicity-related aspects into all relevant cantonal procedures. The SED will coordinate with the canton in developing a canton-specific (or project specific) GEOBEST2020+ workflow for defining tasks of each involved stakeholder (i.e., operator, canton, and SED) and the interactions between them.
Participating in the GRID evaluation of projects
The SED has developed an easy-to-use pre-screening tool, called GRID, to classify the expected seismic risk associated with a geothermal project. GRID uses geological, technical and social information that are readily available before a project starts. The resulting GRID categories come with specific recommendations for seismic monitoring and the needed level of risk assessment and governance for each project. A GRID evaluation should be performed by three independent parties (e.g., canton, operator, and SED) and its results discussed in a joint meeting. The canton can then formulate specific requirements for the permit, based on an objective project classification.
Reviewing seismological aspects of permit and concession requests submitted by the project operators
On request of the canton, the SED can review seismological aspects of all documents submitted to the canton in relation to the planned or ongoing operations of geothermal projects (e.g., environmental impact assessment, drilling and testing concepts, regular status reports, and others). The SED will then evaluate the documents and provide recommendations for additional investigations, if needed.
Participating in project-accompanying advisory expert groups
An advisory expert group can accompany the geothermal project through all phases of its existence and advise the canton in critical project phases. This group should be composed of experts from the canton, operator, and SED and may include external technical experts. If the canton decides to form such a group, SED experts can participate.
Providing independent, canton-specific information on geothermal energy and seismicity to the public
GEOBEST2020+ enables the SED to provide independent background information on geothermal energy and induced seismicity to the public. The SED is doing this via dedicated pages on these topics on the SED website, public presentations and publications, or media interviews. This information can be augmented by up-to-date canton and project-specific information on the SED web site for cantons that decide to cooperate with the SED in GEOBEST2020+.
Coordinating public communication on project-related seismic events with the canton
The federal mandate of the SED includes informing the Swiss authorities and population on felt earthquakes in Switzerland. In such cases, the SED is mandated to publish earthquake information quickly and often respond to numerous media requests. For induced earthquakes in GEOBEST2020+ partner cantons, the SED can ensure that the cantonal authorities are informed about the occurrence of the event in near real-time (24/7). In this way, the SED can make sure that the canton knows that and what the SED must immediately communicate about the event. On the other hand, the SED can then make sure to refer media requests for project-specific questions to the right communication unit of the canton.