World Geothermal Congress 2020+1
March - October, 2021

The Emerging (and Proven) Technologies That Could Finally Make Geothermal Scalable

Robert WINSLOE, Alexander RICHTER, Jeanine VANY

[Eavor Technologies, United Kingdom]

As an industry, one of the challenges we have faced (in the development and acceptance of geothermal as a global energy source) is that we have been largely limited to permeable aquifers (or creating artificial permeability) or tapping into volcanic hotspots. And yet, at sufficient depth, geothermal energy is available everywhere. The good news is that a range of proven and emerging technologies, that eliminate the need for a hot permeable aquifer, could finally make geothermal energy scalable. This paper will review these technologies (and associated case histories) and assess their potential impact on the global competitiveness of geothermal energy and the energy balance of the countries and regions that embrace them. The paper will begin by looking at the global theoretical potential of geothermal energy and comparing that with current and planned capacity. And we will then go on to assess the viability and impact of the technologies that could help us begin to fully exploit the earth’s geothermal potential. Several technologies will be evaluated based on a review of the literature, case studies and ongoing projects. These include: - Shallow, low enthalpy aquifers - Water production from oil and gas operations - Closed-Loop (or conduction based) geothermal This paper will present the science, economics and commercial demonstration projects that support these technologies. As the case studies will demonstrate the first two of these are already being exploited and are ready for expansion at scale. The third, conduction based geothermal, already has a long (and largely unsuccessful) history following a series of failed laboratory and field scale experiments. However there are two emerging technologies which promise to finally make conduction economically viable and geothermal scalable. Neither of these was possible 3 years ago and both are benefiting from exploitation of proven technologies from the oil and gas sector. The first is going deep and very hot in a single well closed-loop configuration. The second comes shallower in a u-shaped multilateral well configuration that effectively buries 100km of closed-loop pipe at temperatures of around 120C. The paper will conclude by assessing the potential impact of these technologies on the economics and energy balance of the countries and regions that embrace them.

        Topic: Advanced Technology (Magma, Geopressure, etc.) Paper Number: 37022

         Session 44C: Advanced Technology 3 [Tuesday 6th July 2021, 02:00 pm] (UTC-8)
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Send questions and comments on the Technical Program to wgc2020techprog@lovegeothermal.org