With the drilling operations on the Balmatt site in Mol, VITO has proven that there is geothermal energy in the Flemish subsoil. However, there is also deep geothermal potential at other sites in Flanders.

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Northern Limburg hotspot for geothermal energy?

Thanks to a seismic campaign, VITO already established back in 2007 that northern Limburg could well be a hotspot for geothermal energy. With new research, it is hoping to confirm the findings and gather more information regarding the subsoil. This will be carried out by means of an electromagnetic 3D campaign, whereby magnetic and electromagnetic signals are measured in the subsoil. This campaign will be combined with gravity measurements. Both studies provide more information regarding the permeability of the subsoil and the possible presence of hot water. On this basis, the decision can be reached as to whether a deep geothermal energy plant is possible here, like in Mol.

Innovative drilling techniques

In places where deep geothermal energy is not easy to reach in aquifers, the construction of a geothermal energy plant is not the obvious course of action. Nevertheless, there are opportunities to also heat those areas with geothermal energy. VITO is currently carrying out research into drilling techniques with which we can take full advantage of the deep geothermal potential in those areas. The innovative drilling techniques may, in turn, prove useful in other areas, such as tunnel construction.

Combining knowledge

Specialised knowledge is required in order to determine whether Flemish subsoil has deep geothermal potential. We must have a good understanding of the properties of the deep subsoil, the energy requirement in a particular region and heat storage. VITO is allowing researchers from various units to collaborate in order to uncover this knowledge. Seismic campaigns will therefore be carried out by employees of the RMA unit. Researchers from the Energy unit will examine how the deep geothermal potential can be converted to meet the demand for heating.