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Better and safer exploitation of geothermal wells

26 Apr 2016

Better and safer exploitation of geothermal energy through innovative wellbore materials and stimulation concepts

The European Union has recently fired the starting gun for several large research projects on a safer and more efficient use of geothermal energy. Geothermal energy – the production of warm water from the shallow and deep underground – is in these days a hot topic for a sustainable energy supply (heat and electricity) in Europe.

TNO belongs to the leading research institutions in the European geothermal landscape and is involved in three recently started research projects: SURE, DESTRESS, and GEOWELL.

SURE is studying a relatively new drilling technique –water jet drilling – in a number of different rock types. This innovative drilling method will increase the inflow of hot water into insufficiently producing geothermal wells.
DESTRESS aims at creating so-called Enhanced Geothermal Systems which stimulate the formation of cracks and bigger pore volume in a geothermal reservoir to allow for economically sufficient water flow. Injected cold water then travels better through these cracks, takes on heat from the rock and is pumped to the surface as hot water. In DESTRESS various stimulation techniques will be tested in various rock types (granites, sandstones, limestones) in order to define the most effective and cost-efficient enhancements per rock type. Another important topic is the environmental impact of applying Enhanced Geothermal Systems.

The GeoWell project will address actual major bottlenecks like high investment and maintenance costs of geothermal wells by developing reliable, cost effective and environmentally safe well completion and monitoring technologies. Envisaged improvements include the use of optimized, high-temperature resistant well materials (e.g., corrosion resistant liners), innovative well design (e.g. flexible couplings) and cementing procedures to guarantee an extended life-time of the well. GEOWELL will also develop advanced well integrity monitoring tools and risk management procedures for efficient, sustainable geothermal applications.

The new designed materials and innovative concepts for sustainable and reliable geothermal operations will also be (partly) applicable in related geo-energy sectors such as CO2 and energy storage or the production of natural gas.

SURE, DESTRESS, and GEOWELL are being financed by the European Commission’s H2020 Programme under grant agreement numbers 654662, 691728, and 654497.

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