MOL, 15 November, and Dessel, 5 December 2019 - VITO held two information meetings on the Balmatt project in Mol and Dessel in the past weeks. A total of more than 100 local residents attended the meetings.

Managing director, Dirk Fransaer, and research leader Geothermie, Ben Laenen, gave a general explanation of deep geothermal energy and its importance as a sustainable energy source. On the other hand, attendees were given an overview of the Balmatt project to date. After all the preparatory phases, the actual drilling phases and the realisation of the power station, the period of trial operation of the power station was discussed in detail, including the earthquakes caused by the geothermal activity.

A total of 266 earthquakes were recorded by the VITO seismometer network with a locally measured strength between -1.0 and 2.1 on the Richter scale. The earthquakes cluster around the injection point according to a NNW-ZZO orientation.

In addition to strength, other parameters are important for determining the level of sensitivity and damage, such as peak ground velocity and acceleration. In the earthquake on June 23rd. - The installation had already been at a standstill for two days - both parameters remained far below the danger zone.

Since the earthquake on June 23rd, internal and external experts have done a lot of research into the cause of the induced earthquakes. Two external, international research organisations have come to the conclusion that horizontal movements occurred in the deep subsurface along a NNO-ZZW or a WNW-OZO plane, one of which was felt on the surface.

In order to avoid such perceptible earthquakes as much as possible in the future and to minimize the risk of the power station shutting down due to external factors, a number of technical changes were made to the installation and the traffic light system used by VITO was tightened up.

The participants in Mol had questions about the influence of the new insights into the structure of the deep subsurface with regard to the underground disposal of radioactive waste, as well as about the municipality's further plans for the construction of heat networks.

The participants in Dessel asked a number of technical questions about the operation of the geothermal power plant and also wondered whether energy will be made available to the population, as announced. Mayor Kris Van Dijck made it clear that this pilot project and the perspectives put forward had 'warmed up' many actors in the region to heat networks based on geothermal energy as a sustainable source of energy. In the meantime, it appeared that the full roll-out of this is not yet possible and other energy sources have to be brought in at this time.

For VITO it is clear: scientific exploration has shown that the exploitation of deep geothermal energy is technically possible. The fact that large companies in the Kempen region are currently implementing or drawing up plans in this area is the best proof of this.

VITO will provide a bimonthly update of the Balmatt project to the Mol and Dessel municipalities in order to keep local residents regularly informed about the state of affairs of the Balmatt project. If you want to follow the measurements online, please visit

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