“Sustainable” Fracking for Geothermal Energy? – no.orf.et

In classic fracking, energy companies extract natural gas or crude oil from porous layers of rock that would otherwise not be suitable for extraction. To date, however, chemicals have had to be pumped deep into the Earth to break down the rock under high pressure – and these chemicals have been criticized for many years. Conservationists describe them as extremely harmful. Environmental damage is said to have occurred, particularly in the United States, where the technology is used extensively.

When the OMV also wanted to use fracking in the Weinviertel about ten years ago, the population and some politicians went to the barricades. At the time, Herbert Hofstadter, a professor at the Montanuniversitat Leben, developed a process that aimed to eliminate most environmental risks. Instead of the chemicals he criticized, he relied on “demonstratively absolutely environmentally friendly” substances that would have the same effect.


For years, plans for the so-called “Bio Enhanced Energy Recovery (BEER)” methodology have been lying in the drawer. Energy prices were relatively low, and cheap Russian gas supplies were secure in Austria. All that changed within a short time, and interest in the Liebben beer technique suddenly resurfaced.

Hofstadter told noe.ORF.at that fracking with his method had not been politically supported in the past: “Someone has stopped this process to stop it.” Well, in times of high energy prices, there are especially many interested parties abroad, for example in Canada.

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However, domestic inquiries about the technology have already been made, Hofstadter says, without giving any details. OMVs have recently rejected classic fracking in oil and gas production in this country.

Researcher: “Weinviertel Ideally Adapted”

However, according to Hofstadter, this is not necessary at all. Their technology can also be used in the use of geothermal energy, i.e. geothermal energy – and in particular lower Austria. “There really is no limit to the use of this technology,” says the researcher. “From a geological point of view, the deposits in the Weinviertel and Vienna Basins are ideally suited.”

Geothermal energy also includes drilling at great depths, but not for fossil fuels, but for hot water. The process of extracting this water is similar to that of oil or gas. “We can copy and paste,” Hofstetter says.

mother Earth

In all ORF media, May 17-29 On the one hand the theme of “climate and energy” and on the other side “return of the forest”.

A geothermal reservoir looks exactly like an oil or gas reservoir. “There is also a porous rock body whose pores hold hot water.” If the temperature is high enough, but the rock is not permeable enough, extraction is by no means economical, according to the Styrian scientist. “However, if we break the rock by applying hydraulic pressure we create flow paths and these flow paths are supported in such a way that they are no longer closed, it can be very economical.”

future hope geothermal energy

In any case, OMV has big plans for geothermal energy. It should deliver eight to nine terawatt hours by 2030. For comparison: the annual electricity consumption in the whole of Lower Austria is about twelve terawatt hours. Lower Austria should play a major role here. According to OMV, there are already plans for a concrete project here, but details on it have not been published yet.

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