First Flemish deep geothermal energy plant with heat network

The Flemish Institute for Technological Research (FITR) has successfully carried out a test drilling on the Balmatt site in Mol. This for the future construction of a deep geothermal energy plant that will extract hot water from underground. Sweco Belgium is inter alia referred to as the designer of the heat network that distributes heat from the power station to customers.

Facts

Client: The Flemish Institute for Technological Research (FITR)

Location: Balmatt site, Mol

Period: 2015 - 2017

Services: include design of heat network, geothermal energy plant, E&I and automation

Situation
The test drilling was started on the site on 14 September 2015. Using this drilling, the FITR wants to measure the available flow of hot water at almost 4 km depth underground. In Flanders, drilling has never actually been deeper than 3 km. At a depth of about 3.6 km, the researchers found a heated aquiferous layer heated up to 124°C. This layer will power the geothermal energy plant. 

Assignment
Initially the extracted heat will be used for heating the FITR/SCK buildings. Sweco carried out the studies for the heat network of the geothermal energy station in the boiler room of the FITR, a distance of approximately 1.8 km. In addition, Sweco is responsible for the design of the geothermal energy station, the E&I (Electrical Engineering & Instrumentation) and the automation, and we’re studying pumping in the bore well, degassing, the filter installation and the brine heat exchangers. The brine heat exchangers are coupled to the heating network, which is coupled, in turn, with the boiler room of FITR/SCK.

In a subsequent phase, the geothermal heat can be used to supply heat to additional heat consumers and/or for the production of renewable electricity. Via additional drillings almost 20,000 families can be provided with renewable electricity.

Results
The result of the exploratory drilling was favourable, which is why the FITR considers eight additional geothermal plants as being possible in a large part of the Antwerp and Limburg Kempen area. Estimates indicate that approximately 24,000 km of heating networks should be constructed in order to transport the heat from those power plants to end users. Sweco is already ready to tackle that challenge with its broad expertise. 

The Flemish government fully supports geothermal energy and sees this as an important component of the energy mix of tomorrow. Deep geothermal energy indeed has as many advantages as an energy source: local and continuously available, virtually free of greenhouse gas emissions and not dependent on fluctuations in the oil market. This way Flanders will in future be much less dependent on polluting fossil fuels from abroad.