The geothermal project is being proposed by Deutsche Erdwärme. The plan is to drill for hot water near Wiesental to a depth of around 4000 meters. The well will supply both heat and electricity. Heating will also be offered to the households in Waghäusel, although a district heating network is yet to be built.
The municipal council of Waghäusel did not have protests in providing the plots for the project. However, a citizens’ initiative was formed to oppose the project. Concerns over minor or severe earthquakes, as well as negative influences on the groundwater, were cited as reasons for the opposition. To resolve the conflict, the municipal council saw fit to allow the citizens to vote on the transfer of the property for the geothermal project.
We had first reported on the Waghäusel geothermal project back in 2021. During an online information event, the company indicated that Waghäusel is particularly well-suited for geothermal because of the 160 degree Celsius thermal water that can be obtained from the existing red sandstone formation. An extensive soil survey with 3D seismics had been done by Deutsche Erdwärme on this site back in 2019.
All German residents or EU citizens over the age of 16 who have lived in Waghäusel for three months are eligible to vote. According to current information, this corresponds to around 17,070 eligible voters. Assuming 17,070 beneficiaries, the quorum would be 3,414 votes, although this number is yet to be finalized.
The referendum is only to decide on the transfer of land for the geothermal project. Any drilling operations must still be approved by the Mining Authority in Freiburg. Similarly, a negative result means that Deutsche Erdwärme can still proceed with the project on acquired private land in Waghäusel or land owned by the state of Baden-Württemberg.