top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

Geothermal power plant closed in Strasbourg after earthquake

A power plant that has caused 11 earthquakes in the Bas-Rhin department is to be closed permanently 

A geothermal power plant in Vendenheim, north of Strasbourg, has been permanently closed by the préfecture in the Bas-Rhin after multiple earthquakes in the area.

The latest earthquake on Friday, December 4, was 3.8 in magnitude and caused vibrations lasting a few seconds that were felt within a 50km radius from the site, including in the city of Strasbourg. 

It was the 11th earthquake in the area since October 27, although others have been much smaller. Local residents have reported cracks appearing in their homes as a result.

Read more: 3.5 magnitude earthquake in France due to human activity

Prefect Josiane Chavalier now says the power plant responsible for the quakes will close “on the principle of precaution and protecting people”. The decision is supported by multiple local mayors who have called for the site’s closure.

Site still under construction

The first significant earthquake caused by the site happened in 2019. Before this, results from the plant had been promising; €90million had been invested in the project to tunnel 4,000 meters into the earth in order to transform underground heat into electricity. 

The site was still under construction but was expected to provide up to 10,000 homes with electricity when completed. 

Fonroche Géothermie which runs the site did not plan to close it following the latest quake. Before being ordered to close, site director Jean-Phillipe Soulé said the company planned to “study the options” over some months before holding discussions with technicians, the government, and local officials, to reach a decision.


Investigation to begin 

Since the closure, the prefecture has ordered an administrative investigation into practices at the plant, after researchers at the University of Strasbourg raised concerns. 

Water found at a depth of 5km underground is naturally hot and can be extracted and used to make electricity, after which cold water is then reinjected back into the ground. 

One of the cold-water wells on the site was found to be the epicentre of the latest earthquake. It is thought that the cold water was reinjected at a pressure that was too high, which caused the earthquake. 

Related stories

3.8 magnitude earthquake hits Brest

French nuclear stations ‘prepared’ for quake risk

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now