Switzerland - Direct Uses




District heating (estimated)



Geothermal heat pumps



fish farming (estimated)



bathing and swimming





Total thermal installed capacity in MWt


Direct use in TJ/year


Direct use in GWh/year


Capacity factor



Country Update: Direct use of geothermal energy has had a long tradition in the country and is very successful. The oldest utilizations are the still popular thermal spas, which can be found in the midlands but also in the alpine region. Geothermal heat pumps applications have been for more than a century an unabated success story with annual growth rates of up to 12%. The deployment of shallow geothermal energy applications is mainly restricted by water protection regulations, but not constrained by its natural potential.

Geothermal heat pump systems for space heating provide the main part of heat production – about 3.06 TWh. Of this 86% come from systems with borehole heat exchangers (2,626.1 GWh). The remaining heat pump-based utilization is made up by groundwater systems (367.3 GWh), geostructures (33.6 GWh), deep aquifers (18.85 GWh), tunnel water (6.5 GWh) and deep borehole heat exchangers (2.2 GWh). Geothermal heat pumps installation providing both heating and cooling are growing steadily. In 2013, the total drill-length of borehole heat exchangers was about 2,600 km, with a density of 3 standard 12 kW units per km2, the highest worldwide. Direct heat use without heat pumps is applied mainly to thermal bathing (228.7 GWh), and a doublet system for district heating (2.4 GWh) in Riehen near Basle. The temporary decline in direct-heat generation in 2011 was due to the reconstruction of the heating station in Riehen. At the tunnel of “Lötschberg” a big part of the geothermal heat (2 GWh) is used directly for fish farming at Troopenhaus Frutigen. Tunnel water that drains from the surrounding rock zones produces a considerable amount of warm water that flows towards the portals. Water with a temperature of up to 50oC can be utilized for space heating, greenhouses, balneology, fish farming, etc. (Link, et al., 2015).

Taken from: John W. Lund and Tonya L. Boyd
Published in Direct Utilization of Geothermal Energy 2015 Worldwide Review

Total thermal installed capacity in MWt:1,060.9
Direct use in TJ/year7,714.6
Direct use in GWh/year2,143.1
Capacity factor0.23

The use of geothermal energy for direct-use has increased substantially, mainly with the installations of geothermal heat pumps (GHP). GHP have increased at rates up to 17% per year, with borehole heat exchangers-coupled systems dominating. Novel applications such as using warm tunnel waters and energy piles have been developed. In just 2009 along, over 2,000 km of borehole heat exchangers (BHE) have been drilled. The majority of the BHEs have been installed in new buildings, but the number of retrofits is increasing.

The second largest use of geothermal energy is with thermal spas and wellness facilities. The proportion of the various uses in terms of energy use (GWh) is 73.9% for HE and horizontal loops, 13.6% for balneology, 10.4% using shallow groundwater, 1.0% using geostructures (energy piles), 0.6% using deep aquifers which includes using tunnel water. With about one GHP installed on the average every square km, this is the highest concentration in the world.

One geothermal district heating system is located on Riehen, Canton Basel city. A recent change in governmental policy was the introduction of a feed-in tariff and a risk coverage system in 2008.

The geothermal use by the various categories is:

2 MWt and 14.7 TJ/yr for individual space heating;
3 MWt and 33.5 TJ/yr for district heating;
1.4 MWt and 11 TJ/yr for air conditioning;
0.1 MWt and 0.3 TJ/yr for snow melting;
34.9 MWt and 1,045.4 TJ/yr for bathing and swimming;
2.4 MWt and 7.7 TJ/yr for using tunnel water;
1,017.1 MWt and 6,602 TJ/yr for GHP.

The total for the country is 1,060.6 MWt and 7,714.6 TJ/yr  

Taken from the paper by John W. Lund, Derek H. Freeston, and Tonya L. Boyd: "Direct Utilization of Geothermal Energy 2010 Worldwide Review"; published in Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress 2010, Bali, Indonesia, 25-29 April 2010