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Geothermal energy in Germany

Future-oriented technology for the development of future energy sources

Bavarian Molasse / Northern German basin, Germany

Herrenknecht Vertical deep drilling rigs have a great track record in geothermal energy. Customers‘ drilling crews have produced more than 56,000 meters of wells for geothermal energy projects in Germany with TI-350 Box-on-Box type rigs. The rigs’ innovative technology prioritizes the highest bore hole and working safety, and lowest noise levels.

From record to record

5,133 meters – the drilling crew in Kirchweidach (Bavaria, Germany) celebrated a record of a safely reached drilling length with the TI-350 Box-on-box rig, called “InnovaRig”, breaking the 5,000m mark for its first time, in a geothermal energy project in November 2011. Only around two years later that record was broken with the same rig in Traunreut. Also located in the Bavarian Molasse Basin between the Alps and the Danube, the local municipality intends to use the geothermal energy to generate electricity and district heat. Two wells with drilling depths of 5,067 meters (MD) and 5,412 meters (MD) were produced here between January and July 2012, and between October 2012 and March 2013.

Herrenknecht Vertical had equipped the rig with a skidding system by which it can be shifted from the first well to the second well without costly and time-consuming disassembly and assembly. Thanks to this feature, the second drilling operation can start only two days after the first one was completed.

The wells drilled successfully in Kirchweidach and the connected power plant will provide for neighboring communities with up to 13,000 megawatt hours of heat a year from sustainable sources. The Traunreut power plant is generating electricity at a capacity of up to 5 megawatts and thermal energy with a maximum capacity of 12 megawatts from water that is extracted from the borehole at 118° Celsius.

The quietest rig on the market

To ensure efficient decoupling and use of district heating as for example in Kirchweidach, transport distances must be as short as possible. This means that both drilling location and power plant must typically be near built-up areas, which poses special demands on the drilling rig and in particular regarding space requirements and noise emissions. To keep noise from the drilling location as low as possible, Herrenknecht Vertical’s rigs have a comprehensive integrated noise protection concept.

Usually the top drive is one of the main sources of noise, since it radiates noise far into the surroundings due to its exposed location at a height of over 50 meters. Due to the newly developed hydraulic drive, the Herrenknecht top drive is extremely quiet. At a distance of 100 meters, the noise level is equivalent to no more than that of a radio at normal listening volume. Manual pipe handling, which takes place at the mast in conventional rigs, contributes considerably to noise emissions, but is no longer necessary using the mechanized pipe handler. Therefore, Herrenknecht Vertical’s hydraulic rigs are considered to be the quietest rig type on the market.

Safety first

The rigs‘ comprehensive automation (hands-off technology) and implementation of pipe handler, iron roughneck, cylinder hoisting system and top drive are setting new standards in deep geothermal drilling projects. The entire pipe handling system was newly developed. The combination of a horizontal pipe rack with boxes and gantry crane, and the horizontal-to-vertical pipe handler, allows for the safe transportation and handling of pipes and keeps staff out of hazardous areas. All major handling and make-up or break-out procedures are remote-controlled from the driller’s cabin.

The Munich vision

The Bavarian capital of Munich plans to become the first major German city where district heating is produced exclusively from renewable energy sources, mainly geothermal energy. To this end, another heating plant was commissioned in the west of Munich at Freiham. Here, Herrenknecht Vertical’s TI-350 Box-on-Box rig successfully drilled two wells of 3,132 meters and 3,113 meters in late 2015 and early 2016, from which 90° Celsius hot water is pumped to the surface.

Further geothermal projects at the municipalities of Mauerstetten, Dürrnhaar and Kirchstockach, all in the Bavarian Molasse Basin, complete the list of locations where Herrenknecht Vertical’s high-tech deep drilling rigs have distinguished themselves by their smooth and quiet operations, high availability, and high safety standards without accidents.

Specific geothermal research well

A single hole concept for the generation of geothermal energy was applied in practice at the GeneSys project in Hanover (Lower Saxony, northern Germany) for the first time in the world. In contrast to the usual doublet well concept, the hot water is extracted and the cooled water is returned in the same well, through an inner tube and outer annulus at different depths. The advantage is that drilling costs are halved.

The aim of the Hanover drilling operations was not only to reach the necessary drilling depth of 3,902 meters quickly, but also to provide comprehensive experimental results about the sediment formations typical of the North German Basin. The TI-350 Box-on-Box type rig, named “InnovaRig”, designed for both research and industrial drilling, has special measurement and analysis equipment installed in it and cores can be extracted to determine sediment structure. Artificial tremors can also be triggered in the bore hole to measure the dissipation of pressure and sound waves.

Download our project data sheet:



Bavarian Molasse Basin / North German Basin, Germany

Rig type:
TI-350 Box-on-Box

Deep geothermal energy

Drilling depths:
up to 5,500 m (18,050 ft)

Well diameter:
28’’ to 8 1/2’’

GFZ Potsdam / H. Angers & Söhne

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