The times they are a-changin', knew already Bob Dylan, and he is obviously right. Although nuclear energy and hydrocarbons still play the most important role in global energy supply, sustainable energies such as wind, water and solar energy are gaining ground, in particular in Western Europe. One of the fastest growing markets in this respect is geothermal energy. There are high hopes that deep geothermal energy and the hot dry rock concept may supply enough energy go substitute for several nuclear power plants. Although the investment costs for the installation of a geothermal power plant are quite high - in particular drilling costs are immense - low maintenance costs and the longevity of the technique make it an attractive energy source for the future. Nevertheless, the examples of Basel, Urach and Staufen show, that geothermal drilling bears risks which make it difficult to establish acceptance of this ecological energy source in modern societies. Simply the fact, that hydraulic fracturing is necessary to provide sufficient pathways for successful heating of the injected water, leads to defense reactions in the public. Confidence in the technique is necessary. Confidence needs knowledge, knowledge of the geomechanical behavior of the rocks which shall provide the energy necessary to run a geothermal power plant.
Rock strength investigations run by Gesteinslabor have led to the successful drilling of several important geothermal wells.
Find out more about the ideas plans and projects of gesteinslabor concerning geothermal energy published as a Learn! Blog interview on the homepage of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.