Swiss protesters demand halt to deep geothermal project

The local Association of Responsible Jurassic Citizens (CRJ) led a peaceful demonstration calling for an immediate halt to the deep geothermal project in Haute-Sorne, west of Delémont.

Last year, the Jura government decided to relaunch the project that involves injecting water 5,000 meters underground, sparking anger among some locals.

Protesters have expressed concerns about potential risks to underground water sources, seismic activity, and radioactivity, and have doubts about the project’s long-term sustainability.

The project has received federal support, but the demonstrators are urging Jura parliamentarians to intervene.

Opponents of the project previously launched a popular initiative, which was annulled by the Constitutional Court in 2018, and a subsequent appeal by Haute-Sorne residents was also rejected the same year by Switzerland’s highest court.

According to a provisional timetable by Geo-Energie Suisse, an exploratory phase is set to begin next year for a deep geothermal project in Haute-Sorne, Switzerland.

The project aims to provide geothermal energy to meet the electricity needs of 6,000 local homes, with production slated to start in 2028-2029.

However, the project is facing opposition from locals who are concerned about potential risks to underground water sources, seismic activity, and radioactivity.

Despite these concerns, the Jura government relaunched the project last year, backed by the federal government which has allocated CHF90 million towards the initiative.

The project is part of Switzerland’s efforts to explore alternative energy options to reach its goal of being CO2 neutral by 2050.

Geothermie Schweiz estimates that at least a quarter of Switzerland’s heating needs could be met by hot underground sources by 2050.

According to a 2050 scenario by the Federal Office of Energy, geothermal sources could cover 7% of national electricity consumption.

However, the renewable energy source has encountered some obstacles, with some sites being shut down or temporarily halted due to concerns about causing earth tremors.

In addition, a highly anticipated showcase geothermal project in Lavey-les-Bains in western Switzerland was recently put on hold for technical reasons.

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