From the New York Times:
LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, Germany — Government officials here are reviewing the safety of a geothermal energy project that scientists say set off an earthquake in mid-August, shaking buildings and frightening many residents of this small city.
The geothermal plant, built by Geox, a German energy company, extracts heat by drilling deep into the earth. Advocates of the method say that it could greatly reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels by providing a vast supply of renewable energy.
But in recent months, two similar projects have stirred concerns about their safety and their propensity to cause earthquakes. In the United States, the Energy Department is scrutinizing a project in Northern California run by AltaRock Energy to determine if it is safe. (The project was shut down by the company last month because of crippling technical problems.) Another project, in Basel, Switzerland, was shut down after it generated earthquakes in 2006 and 2007 and is awaiting the decision of a panel of experts about whether it can resume...
The Landau plant, which cost $30 million, went into operation in 2007 and produces electricity for 6,000 homes by drawing heat from beneath the bedrock, nearly two miles beneath the earth’s surface. Geox said a coal-burning plant producing the same electricity would emit 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Not everyone in town was troubled by the quake. “It’s really not such a big deal,” said Volker Weisenburger, 43. “Gas has its own set of risks.”
But other residents said they were skeptical about the new technology. “The engineers always say that they have everything under control, until something happens that they never expected,” said Sabine Hofmann, 47, who lives near the plant.