GFZ coordinates European-Mexican geothermal project GEMex – Kick off meeting in Morelia, Mexico

Field trip to Los Humeros (photo: Ernst Huenges, GFZ).

From 14 to 19 November 2016 the Kick-off Meeting for the European-Mexican project GEMex takes place in Morelia, Mexico. GEMex „Cooperation in Geothermal energy research Europe-Mexico for development of Enhanced Geothermal Systems and Superhot Geothermal Systems “ focusses on the exploration, characterization and assessment of two geothermal systems in the trans-Mexican volcanic belt. David Bruhn from the GFZ section Geothermal Energy Systems coordinates the GEMex project, and contributes its expertise in reservoir engineering. GEMex is a cooperation between a European consortium of 24 partners and a corresponding consortium of 9 mexican partners and is funded by the European Union and the Mexican Ministry of Energy.

Two sites with “unconventional” geothermal characteristics have been selected for the studies, Acoculco, a Hot Enhanced Geothermal System, and Los Humeros, a Superhot Geothermal System.

The Acoculco site, foreseen for EGS development, has been explored by two deep wells drilled by the CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad). These wells found hardly any fluids, but temperatures around 300°C at a depth of 2 km. The lack of fluids at depth is surprising, as this area of Mexico is subject to abundant precipitation. Nonetheless, the high temperature gradient makes it an interesting target for exploitation and the lack of a clear resource makes it an ideal region for testing our knowledge on how to constrain an area where EGS can be performed.

The Los Humeros geothermal system is currently exploited. The northern part of the area, however, is much hotter (>380°C) than the wells used for production today. The development of this part of the reservoir presents a challenge, both because of the high temperature and because of the water chemistry. In addition, the area has only been poorly characterised by geophysical and geological surveys. Therefore, our understanding required for the development and exploitation of this super-hot resource is limited. The uncertainty about the potential of this resource and the technical challenges involved with the development of such a super-hot geothermal system currently prevent its economic development. (jz)

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