• Nederlands
  • English

We bring you hot topics
on sustainable heat.

Janssen pioneers with an industrial application of deep geothermal energy in Flanders

Janssen pioneers with an industrial application of deep geothermal energy in Flanders

Will geothermal energy be the new energy source? If it depends on Janssen Pharmaceutica, it will. The company in Beerse tends to use deep geothermal energy as a renewable energy source, coupled to a heat network of the 4th generation. That's good and for the environment and for the energy bill. Two birds with one stone. But first a few obstacles must be eliminated ...

Still, Janssen is convinced of the sustainable potential of geothermal energy and wants to be an example for other industry players in Belgium and abroad. Who does not begin today, will be hopelessly outdated tomorrow. From this vision and social responsibility, Janssen involves all actors and partners (from policymakers on energy experts to interest groups) to roll out its long-term strategy.

Deeper means more energy

Geothermal energy is the technique to extract energy from the heat stored in the earth. Thus, there is in the core of the earth is a heat of approximately 6000 degrees Celsius. In places where in the rocks below the earth's surface enough heat conducting water layers water can be found, deep wells could bring up that warm water to the surface and used it as energy. Scientists showed that especially in the Kempen the ground is suitable for extracting geothermal energy from the ground.

Janssen in Beerse is considering to replace its existing combustion plant by a system that uses geothermal energy. If this project succeeds, Janssen will be the first industrial player in Belgium that applies this renewable energy source. "Our site consumes the most energy of all the Johnson & Johnson sites (the parent company of Janssen) worldwide. For example, we consume as much electricity as 38,000 families on our campus, "says Eric Snoeckx, director of innovation and networking.

To keep energy costs under control, Janssen is looking for alternative energy sources. "Geothermal energy is an option," explains Hartwin Leen, Energy Manager. "If we tap into this geothermal heat at a depth of 2.4 kilometers, we reach a temperature of 90 degrees. With this we are self-sufficient for cooling and heating. If we go deeper up to 3.5 kilometers, a temperature of 120 degrees is within reach. In this case we can also generate electricity. "

With geothermal heat Janssen can reduce its CO2 emissions by more than 25%. - Hartwin Leen

Less energy costs

However such a project is complex and very expensive. "A project based on the smallest borehole is estimated to cost 20 million euros, with the deepest drilling more than 50 million," Hartwin Leen explains. "And then we take no account of the research costs. Abroad there is extensive experience with geothermal energy, also our closest neighbors Germany and the Netherlands have experience. "Even in Belgium geothermal energy was used long ago. Turnhout heated its former pool since 1957 with geothermal energy for example. Also a successful drilling was carried out in the 80s in Merksplas-Beerse. "There is still much research needed to know the composition of the deep underground."

There are already several good reasons to opt for the use of deep geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is always available regardless of weather conditions and it is also energy at a stable price. "Moreover, geothermal energy makes us more independent of the supply of natural gas for example," Hartwin Leen continues. "In addition, this energy is inexhaustible and there are no greenhouse gases produced such as CO2 emissions." An ideal green and renewable source of energy.

Consolidation in Belgium

The choice for deep geothermal does not only fit within the sustainable management of Janssen, also the international competitiveness benefits from it. After all, American companies now have a major card in hand with their extremely low energy costs thanks to the exploitation of shale gas, the European industry must focus firmly on reducing the energy bill. "We can use geothermal energy to reduce costs by nearly 20%" Hartwin Leen gives as an example. "That way the geothermal Janssen-site in Beerse helps the internal competition within our Johnson & Johnson Group and contributes to the consolidation of our company in Belgium. And that is good news for our country and the economy "Basically, geothermal energy can be a win-win story for everyone: Janssen, the society and the environment.