boorlocatie naast WKK gebouw TU Delft
The drilling site is right next to the campus' combined heat and power plant. The location of the well sites is highlighted. (Photo: Jos Wassink)

With remarkably little ceremony, drilling for TU Delft's geothermal heat project started on Monday, 12 December 2022. The first hot water is expected in a year and a half.

Lees in het Nederlands

Truth be told, there was some ceremony. The DAP geothermal foundation placed a statue of Saint Barbara at the drilling site on Monday. Miners revere her as a patron saint. The Board of the Student Mining Association then sang ‘Glück Auf’ (Good Luck), joined by the drilling personnel and students present. Further celebrations are likely to take place in March 2023, reports the DAP website.

The sober start of geothermal energy at TU Delft is in sharp contrast to the high number of times the topic of geothermal energy has come up in almost 15 years. Founded in 2007, the DAP geothermal foundation has so far organised three scientific symposia on the feasibility of geothermal energy for the campus (and surrounding area).

Scientific Geothermal Project Leader Dr Phil Vardon of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences says that the current drilling with relatively small equipment is suitable for the first 80 metres of soft ground. Two holes will be drilled for the supply and discharge of water to and from the ground. The diameter of the drilling starts wide and starts narrowing further down. A casing will also be laid to stabilise the boreholes.

‘A slab of asphalt with two very deep holes’

By April 2023, Vardon expects a larger drilling rig to be built on the site next to TU Delft's gas-fired heat and power plant. Large equipment will then be needed to drill through rocks to a depth of 2.5 kilometres. That will take an estimated six months for the two holes. Then there is a slab of asphalt with two very deep holes in it.

On the surface, pumping stations and connections to the campus heat network will then be built. Vardon expects the first hot water in mid-2024.

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