Geothermal power is a promising renewable energy source for Flanders. But where exactly does the potential lie? By mapping the subsoil in detail with specifi c techniques, VITO is assisting in the development of geothermal plants. In May 2017 a comprehensive measuring campaign took place in the context of the ERDF SALK project ‘Towards a sustainable energy supply in cities’.

Measurement campaigns reveal geothermal potential

The measurements took place in the Bree-Maaseik region, in the border area of the Kempen basin and the Roer Valley dig. David Lagrou of VITO: “Because there is an important fault zone below ground there, it is the ideal location for an electromagnetic 3D test campaign. We worked with the French geophysical company CGG. Its experts measured the magnetic and electrical signals at 60 points below ground.” The researchers also performed detailed gravity measurements at the same time. The results of all the measurements were combined with seismic data from a previous measurement campaign. Virginie Harcouët-Menou of VITO: “Measuring an additional physical parameter gives you new information about what is below ground. Our 2007 seismic campaign already taught us much about the structure below ground in the area. We now want to supplement this knowledge with data on subsoil permeability and the possible presence of hot water. If the results are positive, a cost-effective method could result to detect areas with a geothermal potential. Our accumulated knowledge reduces the risk associated with developing a geothermal plant and thus also the cost.” The measurement campaign was made possible by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Flemish government, the province of Limburg and the participating partners.