In order to create an environmentally compatible and economically successful energy transition, the focus in Germany is on achieving an efficient energy supply through using renewable energies that must also be reliable and affordable. Geothermal energy can make an important contribution to this in the future, as it can be used not only for producing heat but also for cooling and electricity generation. Geothermal energy describes the thermal energy stored in the Earth's crust and is renewable. As the temperature rises with increasing depth (3°C per 100 m), geothermal energy primarily requires drilling.
With the help of the GIGS research project, the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) wants to investigate the geothermal potential in the granite below Schneeberg and Bad Schlema on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). In cooperation with the Federal State of Saxony, the scientific, contractual and legal prerequisites for the necessary research drilling shall be guaranteed in a preliminary project.
The planned drilling will then provide information on the 3D seismic survey carried out in 2012 and on the economic potential for utilising the geothermal energy from the granite in the Ore Mountains. The area's geological characteristics (granite with natural fissures) should, however, provide good conditions for efficient drilling. Further goals are concerned with verifying the natural permeability for water at the “Roter Kamm” fault zone and with investigating new drilling and completion techniques for granite.
Geothermal drilling is a subject of public debate in Europe because the heat production can cause artificially induced earthquakes to occur and radioactive substances can be transported to the surface. In order to avoid risks, the BGR would therefore like to make use of effective measures in cooperation with experts and carry out efficient monitoring in advance. If the monitoring shows that there are positive prospects, drilling will not begin until 2021 at the earliest and will take place over a period of 3 years.