The goal of the cross-programme initiative Geoenergy is to strengthen research activities in support of the sustainable and environmentally friendly use of regional geo-resources such as the heat of the subsurface (geothermal energy) and unconventional hydrocarbons (e.g., shale gas). In addition, synergies with the thermal and physical storage of energy in the subsurface shall be developed. The intended holistic approach includes assessment, development and exploitation of the resource, taking into account potentially synergetic as well as competing usage of the subsurface space.
To investigate the above mentioned aspects, existing in-situ laboratories as well as those under development within the association of Helmholtz Centres will be connected through a strategically oriented R&D programme. The infrastructure includes research wells, abandoned mines, laboratories, experimental facilities and demonstration sites. These are used for the development of technologies for the sustainable use of the investigated underground resource.
The network of infrastructures provides a stronger link of the existing in-situ laboratories in deep sedimentary rocks at Groß Schönebeck (geothermal) and at Ketzin (CO2 storage) with the planned GeoLaB in crystalline basement rocks. This network will be complemented by research on suitable simulation tools. In particular, efficient methods for the assessment and management of underground storage sites will be developed and refined. These methods include high-resolution tomographic techniques of geophysical deep sounding at GFZ and KIT as well as numerical simulation tools at UFZ, KIT and GFZ for the analysis and modelling of geo-processes. This work is accompanied and complemented by highly qualified university research groups.
Special emphasis will be put on the development of new in-situ methods for the observation of processes occurring in the deep subsurface. These methods will substantially expand our understanding of important processes, especially with respect to their environmental impact. They will serve both as means of process optimisation and as early-warning systems for unwanted environmental effects. For these reasons they will become indispensable for public acceptance and they will provide the basis for the economic evaluation of innovative technologies.
Beyond the research performed in the Helmholtz in-situ laboratories, a stepwise transfer of the newly developed and tested methods to commercial projects is anticipated, leading to direct added value for industrial projects.