Decision-based Geothermal Field Development (DB GFDP)

Trainer(s): Jürgen Grötsch
Duration: 5-day (optionally followed by a 3-day hands-on opportunity framing workshop)

Business context

The energy transition and the drive towards net-zero emissions has resulted in significant efforts to develop new sustainable energy resources. Since 2022, security of energy supply has become an additional consideration in many countries. For both challenges, geothermal has been identified as one of the major contributors in the future energy mix. The latter requires optionality and a decentralization of parts of the energy supplies, particularly when it comes to heat. In 2021, Germany used 2400 TWh of total energy, 20% is produced from renewables. Only 29% of total energy used is produced domestically. 55% of the total energy is consumed for heat generation which indicates that power generation from wind and solar alone is not sufficient to achieve net-zero emissions. According to the EU Commission, geothermal energy can generate an estimated 25% of all heat energy (e.g. Netherlands, Germany). The city of Munich's flagship project delivers already 60% of the cities heat via an extensive district heating network feed from Upper Jurassic limestones characterized by paleo-karst and associated high water-production rates. This example highlights the huge gap in geothermal development efforts world-wide but also the size of the opportunity on a global scale. However, required wide-spread project developments move forward only very slowly in most countries compared to the size of the opportunity. Reasons for this are lack of access to digital subsurface data, missing experience in subsurface project development, particularly in the new energy sector, and lastly the lack of support, incentives and financial risk mitigation for communities and entrepreneurs to invest in geothermal energy characterized by low margins. Another aspect is that, unlike in the hydrocarbon industry, no integrated subsurface and surface project workflows are established for geothermal developments to date. This results in poor planning and in some cases also undesired outcomes due to limited understanding of the subsurface (e.g. Basel, Stauffen, Vendenheim). Non-technical risks like overregulation and lack of public support provide additional hurdles. This course is addressing such gaps and provides an introduction to decision-based planning of integrated subsurface and surface project development for geothermal energy. It presents a structured approach and workflow for new energy developments suitable for large cities, small communities, industrial projects or agricultural purposes. Geothermal developments are historically either linked to volcanic activity (e.g. Iceland), rift basins with high heat flows (e.g. Upper Rhine Graben) or tectonically active areas (e.g. California). However, next to these also other geothermal reservoir developments are possible focused on matrix porosity of sedimentary rocks (e.g. Munich). The latter has therefore significant additional development potential but is currently exploited in few places only (e.g. Netherlands).

Who should attend

This course has been designed for integrated teams featuring geoscientists, well engineers, reservoir engineers, production technologists, concept engineers and other energy professionals who are working on renewable energy developments. The course is recommended for staff from the energy and service industry as well as for employees in the public sector involved in or planning to work on geothermal projects. Particularly staff from smaller companies, new ventures or city councils are encouraged to attend this offering with the objective to avoid common pitfalls and the triggering of technical or non-technical risks.

Prerequisites: Basic understanding of geosciences is beneficial, however not essential. Previous experience with subsurface development projects is helpful, but not required.

Course content

This course will address questions about why a major move in the energy industry towards geothermal developments is required to achieve sustainability goals and net-zero emissions. The benefits, opportunities, but also challenges and risks of geothermal development projects will be presented and discussed. In addition, the need for new structured workflows for geothermal development projects will be introduced and handrails for such workflows will be provided based on know-how as developed in the hydrocarbon industry. Aim is to support expediting the journey towards sustainable and decentralized new energy solutions. At the same time, staff and stakeholders will be prepared to avoid common pitfalls in project developments.

The training course has the following goals:
• Provide an introduction to geothermal heat as a renewable energy resource
• Present a global overview of current geothermal energy production
• Introduce the concept of decision-based planning for geothermal projects
• Develop a decision-based roadmap for a geothermal projects
• Present the main sources and reservoirs of geothermal energy
• Highlight the differences between fracture and matrix geothermal developments
• Showcase the importance of matrix porosity and permeability in sedimentary rocks
• Summarize available geothermal subsurface technologies and development approaches
• Highlight the use of analogues in geothermal developments
• Present and discuss a number of leading edge geothermal projects
• Provide an introduction to the handling of subsurface uncertainties
• Introduce well planning, execution, data acquisition and completion for geothermal projects
• Address requirements for well monitoring, surveillance and the risk of scaling
• Discuss how energy system integration can be achieved
• Summarize surface technologies and development concept options
• Introduce multi-scenario modelling for geothermal projects
• Develop the basics of geothermal cost & economics models
• Introduce decision quality and focus on value
• Present the potential of additional benefits in geothermal projects
• Discuss the main technical risks involved in harnessing geothermal energy
• Address non-technical risks, like market, policies and social in geothermal developments

Learning, methods and tools

This is an on-site course comprising a mixture of lectures, exercises, case studies, discussions and feedback sessions. The course follows the discover, ask and learn approach. The course can also be provided as online version, if required. There is an option to arrange an onsite workshop after the course offering aiming at new project developments. Therefore, the course can serve as an awareness level introduction and, alternatively, as a kick-off session for a geothermal development project within your organization or set of stakeholders involved. Such a workshop aims at developing a common understanding and an integrated implementation approach involving subsurface, wells, concept engineering, energy service, community planning and communication professionals in your project at an early stage, ie applying front-end project loading.

Day by day programme

Part 1 - Fundamentals of geothermal energy (on-site or online)
Part 2 - Decision based planning for geothermal energy (on-site or online)
Part 3 - Development of geothermal energy projects (on-site or online)
a) Subsurface
b) Surface
c) Cost & Economics
d) Multi-scenario modelling and focus on value
Part 4 - Additional Benefits of geothermal energy projects (on-site or online)
Part 5 - Common pitfalls and risk management in geothermal projects (on-site or online)

Part 6 - Onsite Workshop for your organization (optional, on-site only)
• Facilitated workshop following the Opportunity Realisation Framework
• Interactive workshop tailored to organizational and project needs
• Project grounding for all involved stakeholders of the project
• Common development of project options
• Development of a decision-based roadmap on the way forward
• Uncertainty and risk management in the project