Geothermal Energy: Mission towards the Net Zero

September 28, 2023 by

According to an estimation by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), 90 percent of the world’s electricity can, and should come from renewable energy by 2050.

Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas, are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions. Fossil fuels still account for more than 80 percent of global energy production, and about 29 percent of electricity currently comes from renewable sources.

The coming decade is expected to see continued growth in renewables. The increase in solar power, for example, will mostly be driven by increased self-consumption and more rooftop panel installation.

To meet the challenge of future energy demands, the European Commission has been creating several energy policies to support access to secure, affordable, and sustainable energy supplies. These policies aim to increase the share of renewable energy sources (RES) to at least 27% of the total energy consumption by 2030 and 55% by 2050.

Notably, geothermal has by far the lowest carbon footprint (20-30 kg CO 2 /MWh), compared to those of biogas (150-250 kg CO 2 /MWh) or fossil fuels (500-1000 kg CO 2 /MWh). However, geothermal is currently the most under-utilized of renewable resources, even though it is in principle, via Engineered Geothermal Systems (EGS), possible to use anywhere. A key issue with deep geothermal is the high cost.

Having both the baseload and dispatchable mode of operational capabilities, in the long run, sustainable geothermal energy will replace the role of current fossil-based baseload power plant (such as coal, etc.), promoting more and more intermittent renewable energy (such as solar, wind, etc.) integration into the future decarbonised power grid.

This becomes increasingly important as renewables such as wind and PV solar are intermittent and focussed on electricity production while traditional electricity production (nuclear, fossil) is being phased out. This is combined with a potentially large increase in demand for electricity via electric cars and the rapid development of global economies.

Technovative Solutions Ltd. (TVS) is constantly working on several technologies to improve the performance of different RES technologies and of geothermal power plants to achieve the policy objectives.

In the ongoing net-zero projects, funded by the EU, TVS’s functions include:

COMPASS: The COMPASS is a Horizon Europe project that aims to develop, test, and verify improved and innovative drilling and completion technologies to increase the number of economically viable high-temperature geothermal wells, and thereby reduce the environmental impact and cost associated with the provision of geothermal energy.

In COMPASS, TVS will be developing an LCA modeling tool and a financial tool to evaluate different financial indicators e.g., LCOE, NPV, IRR, ROI, etc. TVS will also evaluate the impact of COMPASS.

Geo-Coat: The Geo-coat project develops specialised corrosion- and erosion-resistant coatings, based on selected High Entropy Alloys (HEAs) and Ceramic/Metal mixtures (Cermets), to be applied through thermal powder coating techniques (primarily high-velocity forms of HVOF / Laser cladding) especially developed to provide the required bond strength, hardness and density for the challenging geothermal applications.

In the project, TVS developed a knowledge-based engineering (KBE) platform for developing different coating materials and coating processing technologies for geothermal applications. A Decision Support System (DSS) is added to the knowledge-based system (KBS) to further guide optimal coating design and material selection.

GeoDrill: The overall objective for Geo-Drill is to develop "holistic" drilling technologies that have the potential to drastically reduce the cost.

In the project, TVS has developed a Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE) platform for a mud hammer-based drilling system for deep geothermal drilling; and performed substantiality analysis based on life-cycle analysis (LCA) and life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) for the holistic drilling system.

GeoHex: Project GeoHex aims to develop heat exchanger (HX) materials, addressing both the improvements in the anti-scaling and anti-corrosion properties as well as the heat transfer performance of the HX material, leading to more efficient and cost-effective systems.

In the project, TVS has developed Geohex knowledge-based engineering (KBE), Decision Support System (DSS) and performing sustainability analysis, and investigating GeoHex opportunity and impact analysis.

GeoPro: The GEOPRO project aims to improve the accuracy and consistency of key thermodynamic and kinetic input data, and the accuracy of the respective Equations of State (and relevant constitutive equations) specifically to develop a verified set of robust, user-friendly, flexible, and accessible tools to optimize sustainable geothermal reservoir management, power and heat production and reinjection strategies.

For the project, TVS brought considerable experience from other Geothermal projects and developed GEOPRO knowledge-based database and decision support system and environmental impact analysis.

GeoSmart: Geothermal is currently engineered as an “always on” baseload supply, due to the limited flexibility to throttle the well without scaling and liner fatigue problems, and it is engineered for maximal efficiency at this output level. Geothermal Energy needs to exhibit a high level of fast flexibility to function as a fully reliable and controllable energy source. GeoSmart aims to optimise and demonstrate innovations to improve the flexibility and efficiency of geothermal heat and power systems.

TVS has developed a cloud-based platform for the flexible operation of geothermal plants. A Decision Support System (DSS) is added to the knowledge-based system (KBS) to further guide optimal plant design.

IMPHORAA: The aim of the project is to deliver a combined set of proven technologies (solar PV nano-grids, cooling, water pumping) to rural areas in The Philippines and Madagascar, where there is a need to deliver energy solutions to rural off-grid communities.

TVS has developed a prototype of the coolbox integrated with phase change materials (PCM) by using a commercially available standard (non-PCM) DC refrigeration system tailored for Madagascar and the Philippines. We have also developed the coolbox app to assist users in sizing coolbox to their cooling needs. This app also informs users about the energy requirements for the desired coolbox and recommends additional nanogrid microgrid equipment (solar panel, batter etc.) if necessary.

OptiDrill: The overall objective of the OptiDrill project is to develop a drilling advisory system utilising novel sensor and machine learning methods to predict ROP, lithology, drilling problems, well completion and enhancement and finally to unite those methods under one system to enable drilling process optimisation and intelligent decision making.

TVS has developed a monitoring system and performed levelised cost of energy and environmental impact analysis. And is also leading the dissemination and exploitation for OptiDrill.

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