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Geothermics in Catalonia - ICGC

Due to the oil crisis of the decade of the 1970's of the last Century, during the decade of the 1980's the study of the geothermal energy in Catalonia and Spain was the subject of numerous works and investments. The Geological Survey of Spain (IGME) developed a National Inventory of geothermal manifestations (1976), and in Catalonia were performed diverse inventories of hot springs and other thermal points. There were also drilled some geothermal exploration wells.

The growing interest on geothermal potential areas of Catalonia induced the IGME to start some studies on the Vallès area (between Sentmenat and Samalús), where upwelling springs had measured temperatures of between 60 °C (la Garriga) and 70 ºC (Caldes). The geological structure of the Vallès area (Eastern Vallès fault and Pre-littoral granitic thrust-fault) distinguished the region as a possible area of geothermal reservoirs. The eastern area of the Vallès was declared a geothermal reservation and a geothermal exploration well in Samalús, drilled in 1981, was the first to be completed.

Also the Olot and La Selva depressions were considered areas of interest, and together with the Empordà were unified under the name of "Olot Geothermal Reservation". The area of Sant Cugat, in the Western Vallès, was a subject of interest for the ENHER company, which together with the IGME, carried out a detailed study of the geothermal anomaly of Sant Cugat, where a piezometric control well (1983) and an exploration well (1984) were drilled.

Early in the decade of 1990's coinciding with a period of cheaper oil prices, the geothermal energy studies were lived in stand-by.

Nowadays, the geothermal energy remains largely unknown and almost ignored in Catalonia, although it is again being studied because of the rise of renewable energies and its applications for air conditioning of buildings. The Catalan Government (Generalitat de Catalunya) encourages their use in housing and facilities, some of them as emblematic as the newly opened hospital in Mollet, the Núria hotel or the ICGC offices on the Pyrenees, which use geothermal heat pumps for air conditioning and sanitary hot water.

At this moment (2012) there are research permits for mining resources granted to energy companies whose objective is the exploitation of geothermal energy in Catalonia.

Geothermics at the ICGC

The ICGC -whose role is gathering, acquiring, maintaining and providing the geological and geothematic information and knowledge for the Government and citizens in general- has compiled the Geothermal Atlas of Catalonia in collaboration with the Institut de Ciències de la Terra Jaume Almera, which belongs to the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), and with other Departments of the Catalan Government.

The ICGC also collects all the thermal information to produce geothematic maps contributing to planning, developing and implementing this clean and renewable energy in Catalonia.

The objective of the ICGC is to improve and disseminate the knowledge of the geothermal resource in Catalonia, and continue gathering and compiling additional new geothermal information.