Geothermal Energy Systems

This research topic focuses on the environment-friendly and economically sustainable utilization of geothermal energy for district heating and electrical power generation. Emphasis is on a concept addressing the generation or engineering of geothermal reservoirs to meet the requirements of sustained fluid-flow rates in various geological settings. Another facet of our research is the underground storage of thermal energy in aquifers.

This topic is coordinated by three institutes, next to the GFZ (Ernst Huenges) the KIT (Thomas Kohl) and the UFZ (Olaf Kolditz) are involved. For exploring geothermal systems in various scales, we apply combinations of field based geological, geophysical, and geochemical methods with reservoir geology and stress field analysis. We provide solutions to successfully generate heat exchangers at depth and to monitor and environmental safely operate geothermal systems at the interface between plant engineering issues and subsurface reservoirs in an interdisciplinary fashion. To facilitate the development of such a geothermal technology large research facilities and infrastructures are required.

For information on projects see here.

For ICGR-Newsletter see here.

Key research questions:

  • How can we realize a safe access and sustainable geothermal utilization of the Earth’s subsurface? What are suitable stimulation treatments to improve the reservoir properties?
  • How can we reach an optimized extraction of heat at a minimum risk of adverse effects on the environment during production of geothermal energy?
  • How can novel techniques like fiber-optic sensing be used for borehole monitoring and coupled reservoir models for describing the dynamic processes in the reservoir during the entire cycle of the geothermal use?
  • How can we develop strategies including material selection to prevent scaling and corrosion processes during plant operation? What are appropriate plant design and optimization strategies in the fields of energy and process engineering?
  • How can we better understand the physical and chemical properties of geothermal fluids and their interactions with rocks and materials in order to predict the long-term behavior of geothermal reservoirs?

Latest publications:

Pei, L., Blöcher, G., Milsch, H., Zimmermann, G., Sass, I., Huenges, E. (2017 online): Thermo-mechanical Properties of Upper Jurassic (Malm) Carbonate Rock Under Drained Conditions. - Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s00603-017-1313-0

Finger, F., Waitzinger, M., Förster, H.-J., Kozlik, M., Raith, J. (2017 online): Identification of discrete low-temperature thermal events in polymetamorphic basement rocks using high spatial resolution FE-SEM-EDX U-Th-Pb dating of uraninite microcrystals. - Geology.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1130/G39370.1

Kastner, O., Norden, B., Klapperer, S., Park, S., Urpi, L., Cacace, M., Blöcher, G. (2017): Thermal solar energy storage in Jurassic aquifers in Northeastern Germany: A simulation study. - Renewable Energy, 104, pp. 290—306.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2016.12.003

Reinsch, T., Blöcher, G. (2017): EU-Projekt SURE – Novel Productivity Enhancement Concept for a Sustainable Utilization of a Geothermal Resource. - Geothermische Energie, 86, pp. 24—25.

Regenspurg, S., Geigenmüller, I., Rybacki, E., Milsch, H. (2017): Redox Reactions During Sandstone Flow-through Experiments at Geothermal Conditions. - Procedia earth and planetary science, 17, pp. 53—56.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.proeps.2016.12.026

Bremer, K., Reinsch, T., Leen, G., Roth, B., Lochmann, S., Lewis, E. (2017): Pressure, temperature and refractive index determination of fluids using a single fibre optic point sensor. - Sensors and Actuators A - Physical, 256, pp. 84—88.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.sna.2017.01.025

Dobson, P., Asanuma, H., Huenges, E., Poletto, F., Reinsch, T., Sanjuan, B. (2017): Supercritical Geothermal Systems - A Review of Past Studies and Ongoing Research Activities - Proceedings, 42nd Stanford Geothermal Workshop (Stanford, California, USA 2017), pp. 1—13.

Bär, K., Reinsch, T., Sippel, J., Strom, A., Mielke, P., Sass, I. (2017): P³ - International PetroPhysical Property Database - Proceedings, 42nd Stanford Geothermal Workshop (Stanford, California, USA 2017), pp. 1—6.

Watanabe, N., Blöcher, G., Cacace, M., Held, S., Kohl, T. (2017): Geoenergy Modeling III: Enhanced Geothermal Systems, (SpringerBriefs in Energy), Cham : Springer International Publishing.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-46581-4

Kabuth, A., Dahmke, A., Beyer, C., Bilke, L., Dethlefsen, F., Dietrich, P., Duttmann, R., Ebert, M., Feeser, V., Görke, U.-J., Köber, R., Rabbel, W., Schanz, T., Schäfer, D., Würdemann, H., Bauer, S. (2017): Energy storage in the geological subsurface: dimensioning, risk analysis and spatial planning: the ANGUS+ project. - Environmental Earth Sciences, 76.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-016-6319-5

Lienen, T., Lüders, K., Halm, H., Westphal, A., Köber, R., Würdemann, H. (2017): Effects of thermal energy storage on shallow aerobic aquifer systems: temporary increase in abundance and activity of sulfate-reducing and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. - Environmental Earth Sciences, 76.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-017-6575-z

Fuchs, S., Schütz, F., Förster, H.-J., Förster, A. (2017): Corrigendum to “Evaluation of common mixing models for calculating bulk thermal conductivity of sedimentary rocks: Correction charts and new conversion equations” [Geothermics 47 (2013) 40–52]. - Geothermics, 66, pp. 183.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.geothermics.2017.01.005

Reinsch, T., Henninges, J. (2017): Well Integrity Analysis in a High Temperature Geothermal Well using Distributed Temperature Sensing Behind Casing - Abstracts, EAGE/DGG Workshop on Fibre Optics Technology in Geophysics (Potsdam 2017).
DOI: http://doi.org/10.3997/2214-4609.201700167

Brehme, M., Bauer, K., Nukman, M., Regenspurg, S. (2017): Self-organizing maps in geothermal exploration–A new approach for understanding geochemical processes and fluid evolution. - Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 336, pp. 19—32.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2017.01.013

Grundmann, G., Förster, H.-J. (2017): Origin of the El Dragón Selenium Mineralization, Quijarro Province, Potosí, Bolivia. - Minerals, 7, 5.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.3390/min7050068