Geo-energy research
Energy & Materials Transition

Research project on geothermal energy and seismicity in Pijnacker

Status project

2023 - 2026

In cooperation with

KNMI and Ammerlaan Geothermie

TNO, the KNMI and Ammerlaan Geothermie will be conducting a four-year research project to assess and evaluate the risks of earthquakes in geothermal energy at Ammerlaan nursery in Pijnacker.

For this purpose, a 1000 m deep well will be deployed with an innovative combination of measuring equipment in order to record very small ground movements. The data will then be used to validate seismicity models. These models help to better understand, identify and manage the risks of seismicity in geothermal energy.

DHARA research project

The four-year DHARA research project (Downhole Research Array at Ammerlaan) aims to support the development of geothermal energy in the Netherlands and to address concerns about seismic activity. The Netherlands aims to increase the use of geothermal energy. However, fear for earthquakes have reduced public support and resulted in stricter rules on geothermal projects.

DHARA’s ambition is to use accurate data to demonstrate how the risk of seismic activity in geothermal energy can be assessed and controlled. This is essential to the further development of geothermal energy in the Netherlands. The project therefore incorporates advanced measurements recorded in a deep well next to an active geothermal project at Ammerlaan.

Advanced measurements in a deep well

The former production well PNA-GT-01 will be equipped with geophones and tilt gauges to a depth of approximately 900 m. These gauges can record extremely small earthquakes and slow deformations that do not produce vibrations. Gauges will also be installed on the surface and will be permanently connected to the KNMI seismic network. They will constantly collect and analyse data in order to detect and understand any earthquakes that occur.

The results will include a public dataset of detailed measurements of deformations and micro seismicity near an active geothermal site. A velocity model and a validated geomechanical model will also be developed, and recommendations will be made for repurposing  a production well to a monitoring well.

The overarching aim of the project is to demonstrate that geothermal energy can be generated safely. This will help to create and maintain public support. The project will also contribute to substantiating the framework conditions for safe production. The main area of research is the risk of barely felt earthquakes caused by geothermal energy.

The participants

The participants will contribute in the following ways:

TNO will coordinate the project, focusing on reservoir modelling and the geological and geomechanical modelling of induced seismicity. TNO will partially fund the measuring equipment and provide tilt measurements.

The KNMI will help design and purchase the seismic measuring equipment, incorporate the new data flow into the KNMI network and use the new measuring equipment to analyse the seismicity.

Ammerlaan Geothermie will provide the well for the installation of the measuring equipment, grant access to the site and maintain the well. Ammerlaan will also supply production data and other data from nearby doublets.

DHARA project
The DHARA research project will be conducted in collaboration between TNO, the KNMI and Ammerlaan Geothermie and is co-sponsored by TKI Urban Energy and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

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