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City reveals ambitious plan to power homes with help from a volcano: 'We have a problem'

The timeline includes locating drilling sites by the end of this year.

Geothermal energy, Dutch city is planning to use heat from an extinct volcano

Photo Credit: iStock

Known for harnessing extraordinary power from water and wind, the Netherlands could become a leader in geothermal energy production by using heat from a volcano.

Bolsward, a city near the northern coast in the province of Friesland, is exploring using heat from the extinct Zuidwal volcano under the Wadden Sea to warm homes, according to the Guardian.

The undertaking is in its initial stages, and the first heat supply is projected for December 2025.

"It started as a crazy idea," Ynze Salverda, a board member of the community initiative Stichting Ontwikkeling Geothermie Friesland, told the Guardian. The initiative is also known as Stogef, and its name translates as the Geothermal Development Friesland Foundation.

"These big wind turbines put a lot of pressure on our landscape," Salverda said, "but when there is no wind, we have a problem. I have a background in the oil and gas world; I knew that there were a few volcanoes, and the [increased] temperature is going to the coast."

Holland — home to more than 13,670 miles of dikes and 1,000 windmills — already has 26 geothermal projects underway. Energie Beheer Nederland, an energy company, has said that 25% of the country's heat demand could be met by geothermal energy, the Guardian reported.

"Stogef is investigating the possibilities of sustainable heating and power generation by means of ultradeep geothermal energy," according to the translated version of the initiative's homepage. "With geothermal energy we can get rid of gas, and it is an alternative to wind turbines. In this way, we save the landscape and the living environment."

Based on the proposed project's website translation, water at 284 degrees would be extracted via a production well from a depth of about two miles. Exchangers would remove the heat from the water and transfer it to a network before the water is sent back where it came from via an injection well.

Bolsward's move to explore geothermal energy is part of its pivot to become "natural-gas-free" by 2030. The city has a "heat transition vision," and an average deep well can deliver the more affordable energy to about 8,000 to 10,000 homes.

"An ultradeep well can also drive a steam turbine to generate electricity," according to a translation of Stogef's website. "This allows us to provide a constant flow of energy day and night without creating bottlenecks on the electricity grid, such as when using solar and wind energy."

The timeline for the venture includes locating drilling sites by the end of this year. Construction is scheduled to begin in May 2024, with the test-drilling of the first well expected in the second half of 2024.

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