The Ashes

Technology, Science and other news
September 13, 2009

German Geothermal Plant Could be Cause for Earthquakes

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Filed under : General
The earth could provide a tremendous amount of energy.

The earth could provide a tremendous amount of energy.

Landau in der Pfalz, a small city in Germany, is currently undergoing government inspections about earthquakes potentially caused by a geothermal plant built by Geox, a German energy company. German scientists suggest that the earthquake that happened in mid-August was a direct result of the geothermal plant.

Geox extracts heat from deep within the Earth by digging nearly two miles with a drill. This results in a high amount of energy that can greatly reduce the amount of fossil fuels used. This reduction, according to advocates of geothermal energy, could have a significant impact on the world’s demand for fossil fuels.

The plant in Laundau is not the first case of earthquakes being brought on by the deep digging. In California, a state desperate to find new renewable energies, a geothermal plant is under great scrutiny for safety. California is known for its earthquakes and further addition to that could cause more damage than reward from the geothermal plant. In Basel, Switzerland, a geothermal plant was closed down after it was determined to be the cause of two earthquakes in 2006 and 2007. The government there is still trying to determine whether or not it is safe to open the plant.

“My concern is that the project leaders for different geothermal projects are about to waste public confidence as long as they don’t talk openly about the seismic risks involved in their projects,” said Rudolf Braun, the head of the Basel inquiry, to the New York Times.

Scientists from the government as well as the geological survey have concluded that the earthquake was brought on by the plant. More importantly, they note that there were four other minor earthquakes caused by the project that were not felt by the people in the area. Despite this information, Geox is neither denying or confirming that their plant was responsible for the earthquakes.

Some people could care less, though. “It’s really not such a big deal. Gas has its own set of risks,” Volker Weisenburger told the New York Times. They are proponents of the plant. Since its creation in 2007, the plant has raised production to the ability of providing electricity to 6,000 homes. That same amount of energy provided by a coal plant would have released 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year.

The government is still trying to determine if the plant is safe enough for the area. By digging two miles deep to pull up the heat, it provides for tremendous energy results, but scientists suggest it also causes seismic problems.

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