Today the world sees the leading geothermal work coming from Iceland with better than 500 MW online and Germany with over 100GW. The U.S. has Chevron and Raser, but Chevron is mostly offshore and Raser is essentially new, but gaining online connections at a rapid pace. What Raser has, and will put up isn’t clear, but with only 500 MW as the point to take the lead, and hints of projects committed, Raser could get past 300 MW soon.

The conference was held at GFZ-German Research Center for Geosciences at the Helmholtz Center in Potsdam, Germany. 120 scientists and industry representatives from the 20 countries participated at the meeting. The aim of this European Union project, in which seven European nations participated, was the development of cutting-edge geophysical methods with which potential geothermal reservoirs can be safely explored and directly tapped. “The new methods deliver important decision-support for the selection of sites for future geothermal projects. With this we can considerably reduce the risk of expensive misdrills explains Dr. Ernst Huenges, Head of Geothermal Research at the host institute GFZ.

IGET Geothermal Modelling.  Click Image for more.

IGET Geothermal Modelling. Click Image for more.

The European Commission funds the I-GET project with an aim at developing an innovative geothermal exploration approach based on advanced geophysical methods. The objective is to improve the detection, prior to drilling, of fluid bearing zones in naturally and/or artificially fractured geothermal reservoirs. The approach has been tested in four European geological formations with different characteristics, two high temperature volcanic or metamorphic rock, one mid enthalpy in deep sedimentary rocks and a low enthalpy located in shallow sedimentary rocks.

The purpose is to ascertain that the above ground study, measurement and testing as used in the laboratory and simulations can be validated by in-field experiments. Seismic and megnetotelluric data is in hand from the test sites. These data were then examined for new acquisition protocols and processing techniques to solve problems. Geothermal targets exhibit problems outside of other deep rock exploration such as very high temperatures, anisotropy and phase condition. The newly developed techniques were used to build dynamic three-dimensional models of the heat reservoirs to test the quality of the new exploration methods. Then bores were drilled to compare results.

I-GET Drilling Program.  Click image for more.

I-GET Drilling Program. Click image for more.

One has to assume the effort paid off. While no claims were made available to the press or public, the titles of the papers hint that the results were worthwhile. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the results of the I-GET project. Due to the thematic emphasis of the project, the program was focused on – but not limited to – geological and geophysical methods in exploration. Independent presentations on similar or different exploration approaches were strongly encouraged to attend the conference and share their experience and ideas with colleagues from all over the world.

Of great interest is the wide range of presenters. From Japan, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand in the east, the U.S. in the west and many European presentations and posters, it must have been a busy couple of days.

While al of this seems encouraging and a bit vague, its because the industry is quite young and just now has a world wide conference for the exchange of ideas about pre sight selection and proving up sites before the drill bit hits the dirt. As the oil guys can tell you, this is the smartest money spent.

I-GET Geology and Temperture Sample. Click image for more.

I-GET Geology and Temperture Sample. Click image for more.

That’s one of the big issues facing geothermal. Actually the first, as figuring out where, is key to making sound investments and committing to large facilities. That’s why this conference, while small, far away and limited in scope is so important – it addresses the primary step, before any others can be taken to move geothermal as an industry to a larger level.

For any practical purpose, all the obvious geothermal sites are well known with leaseholds and other land rights already filed. The big growth must come from new “discoveries” of locations where surface land rights, connection ability to the grid and other site requirements can be met.

There is a lot of room for growth, but the first question is “where” and a major step to getting to that has just now happened.


3 Comments so far

  1. GFZ conference announcing development of new geophysical methods | Think GeoEnergy Blog on March 5, 2009 1:52 PM

    […] “Intelligent Use of the Earth’s heat” (GFZ Potsdam), New Energy and Fuel This entry was posted on Thursday, March 5th, 2009 at 8:49 pm and is filed under By Region, […]

  2. Andrea on August 17, 2010 10:08 AM

    This excellent article encouraged me a lot! Bookmarked your website, extremely excellent categories everywhere that I see here! I really appreciate the information, thanks.

  3. Katie on August 19, 2010 2:53 PM

    Informative write up, saved the site for interest to read more!

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind