Toward a European code to assess monitor and handle the seismic risks in deep geothermal projects

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Geothermal energy projects must be prioritised, and development accelerated to reach the European Commission’s 55% emissions reduction target by 2030. To ensure effective and speedy geothermal development, there is an urgent need for a common environmental framework and effective and optimised practices.  

A potential risk linked to deep geothermal plants is the possible occurrence of a seismic event, which could be felt in the neighbourhood. Most of the geothermal plants in Europe, and after many years of operation (amounting to decades for the Italian, Icelandic, and French-Paris Basin plants), did not create any problems related to seismicity. However, some seismic events have been observed in very few geothermal projects and this can strongly affect the public and politic support and, in general, the acceptability of the deep geothermal energy. Seismicity is covered in some regions or countries, but not at a European level, or by Environmental Impacts Assessments (EIA). A harmonization is hardly possible without an extensive and detailed study of existing practices. 

The experts of the GEOENVI project strongly recommended setting up a European code of actions to assess, monitor, and handle the seismic risks potentially connected to geothermal projects, as well as other mining industry. After an overview of European, national and regional regulations, the expert panel discussed these recommendations for sharing the best practices among countries to assess, monitor and handle the seismicity during drilling, well testing, stimulation and plant operation. During this event the strategic themes of research and innovation in this field have been discussed as well as touch upon public engagement aspects, which further developed in a dedicated GEOENVI webinar on 16th March.

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