--> Geothermal Development In Geneva – A Public Led Approach

AAPG European Region, 3rd Hydrocarbon Geothermal Cross Over Technology Workshop

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Geothermal Development In Geneva – A Public Led Approach


Geneva aims to develop the use of geothermal resources. A country with no extractive industry past like Switzerland has very little information about its subsurface set up. The challenge of developing geothermal resources started from scratch. Geneva is characterised by massive use of fossil fuel for building heating, and high heating needs density, the option of using geothermal resources to reach the energy transition goals has been identified years ago (Geothermal potential of Geneva Canton, 2011). The government officially launched the GEothermie2020 program in 2013, with the aim to massively and sustainably develop geothermal resources in Geneva. The two main aspects that define the program are: • a public led approach, where the administration (geological and energy departments mainly) pilots the implementation and the progress, and the public held utility company is in charge of financing and putting the plans into actions • a holistic approach, where not only exploration of the geothermal resources is covered, but all aspects that will eventually result in the program’s ultimate goal: regulation, environment and sustainability, cross border cooperation, communication and public acceptance, data collection, analysis and management, market development and ultimate use of the resources Switzerland political system and culture is characterized by systematic use of direct democracy. As such, the public’s interest in societal matters is high, and population expectations in terms of information and public debates can strongly influence policies decisions making. The GEothermie2020 program was driven from day one by these considerations, and presents an interesting example of agility, collaboration, and progressive derisking of the use of geothermal resources, to eventually grant success to the development of that resource. In a dynamic of local wealth creation, the program initially relied on regional academic skills to compile existing data, before turning to service providers sometimes from the oil and gas world. The program continues today to rely on the know-how of these actors but also seeks to participate in the development of specific and complementary skills required in the field of geothermal energy and underground water exploration and exploitation. Keywords: GEothermie 2020, Geneva, Energy transition, public policies