VITO has been conducting a feasibility study since 2014 into the use of geothermal energy in the Antwerp municipalities of Beerse, Malle, Oud-Turnhout, Turnhout and Vosselaar. This is being done in partnership with Janssen Pharmaceutica, which would like to use sustainable geothermal energy for its facility in Beerse.
The study is examining the possibility of pumping up hot water from strata between 2 and 3.5 kilometres deep. The temperature of the water can be as high as 90 °C, making it a suitable energy source for sustainable temperature regulation. On paper, the Kempen region appears to lend itself well to the extraction of geothermal energy, but the practical feasibility can only be tested via an intensive and local soil survey.
VITO developed a scenario for Janssen Pharmaceutica in which geothermal energy from the underground is extracted, with the excess heat being re-injected into the ground. This has a double benefit: above ground no residual heat is lost, and the pressure in the underground water reservoir remains constant.
VITO compiled geological data on the region's strata using government data and its own measurements. VITO then developed a custom geothermal model that gives an overview of the various heat reservoirs, the properties of the surrounding ground layers and the way the heat circulates underground.