Geothermal Potential of the Brenner Base Tunnel—Initial Evaluations

Thomas Geisler*, Klaus Voit, Ulrich Burger, Tobias Cordes, Florian Lehner, Gregor Götzl, Magdalena Wolf, Thomas Marcher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing demands on mobility and transport, but limited space above ground, lead to new traffic routes being built, even more underground in the form of tunnels. In addition to improving the traffic situation, tunnels offer the possibility of contributing to climate-friendly heating by indirectly serving as geothermal power plants. In this study, the geothermal potential of the future longest railway tunnel in the world, the Brenner Base Tunnel, was evaluated. At the Brenner Base Tunnel, warm water naturally flows from the apex of the tunnel towards the city of Innsbruck, Austria. In order to estimate its geothermal potential, hydrological data of discharge rates and temperatures were investigated and analyzed. The investigations indicated the highest geothermal potential in the summertime, while the lowest occurs during winter. It could be shown that these variations were a result of cooling during discharge through areas of low overburden (mid mountain range), where the tunnel atmosphere is increasingly influenced by the air temperatures outside the tunnel. Nevertheless, the calculations showed that there will be a usable potential after completion of the tunnel.

Original languageEnglish
Article number972
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2022


  • geothermal energy
  • geothermal potential
  • hydrology
  • sectional discharges
  • tunnels
  • water
  • water inflow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Bioengineering
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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