Geothermal Exploration & Development

Trainer(s): Jürgen Grötsch
Duration: 5-days (optionally followed by a 2-day hands-on opportunity framing workshop

Business context

The energy transition and the drive towards net-zero emissions as per the Paris 2015 agreement has resulted in significant efforts to develop new sustainable energy resources. Since 2022, security of energy supply has become an additional focus area. For both, geothermal has been identified as one of the major contributors in the future energy mix which requires optionality and a decentralization and localization of 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. 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. This example highlights the huge gap in geothermal exploration and development efforts world-wide but also the size of the opportunity on a global scale. To date most geothermal developments are historically either linked to volcanic activity (e.g. Iceland) or tectonically active areas (e.g. California). However, only few developments are connected to heat stored in matrix porosity of sedimentary rocks (e.g. Munich). The latter has therefore significant additional exploration and development potential but is currently exploited in few places only (e.g. Netherlands). One of the reasons is that so far only a rudimentary geothermal exploration and development industry is established - unlike the one for hydrocarbons. This course is introducing the concepts of geothermal exploration and development in various geological settings as well as possible subsurface and surface development concepts suitable for them. At the same time, challenges and risks are discussed to avoid inherent pitfalls (e.g. Basel). Aim is to provide participants with insights into subsurface workflows which can be applied for geothermal projects like play based geothermal exploration (PBGE) and geothermal field development planning (GFDP). Business use cases are national exploration projects globally aiming at sweet spotting areas most suitable for geothermal projects as well as decentralized geothermal energy developments around larger cities (e.g. Vienna) or smaller communities involving local energy providers.

Who should attend

This course has been designed for geoscientists, well engineers, reservoir engineers, production technologists and other energy professionals who are working on renewable energy developments as well as other stakeholders involved in geothermal projects. 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, including decision makers. 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 exploration and development projects can be helpful but is 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 exploration and development projects will be presented and discussed. In addition, the need for new structured workflows for geothermal exploration and development projects will be highlighted 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 and at the same time prep

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 capacity
• Illustrate the additional potential of geothermal exploration
• Highlight which countries are currently leading in geothermal developments and why
• Present the main sources and reservoirs of geothermal energy
• Discuss geothermal potential for power vs heat generation
• Highlight the differences between fracture and matrix geothermal developments
• Showcase the importance of matrix porosity and permeability in sedimentary rocks
• Understand the workflow of exploration - Play Based Geothermal Exploration (PBGE)
• Summarise subsurface and surface technologies and development options
• Present and discuss a number of leading edge geothermal projects
• Introduce the basics of geothermal economics
• Compare geothermal projects with other energy developments
• Highlight potential of additional benefits of geothermal developments
• Provide an outlook for geothermal energy in the decades ahead
• Discuss the main challenges and technical risks involved in harnessing geothermal energy
• Address non-technical risks in geothermal project 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 internally 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 exploration or development project within your organization or stakeholder community. Such a workshop aims at developing a common understanding and an integrated implementation approach involving subsurface, wells, concept engineering, energy service and community planning 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 - Play-based Exploration for geothermal energy (PBGE) (on-site or online)
Part 3 - Development of geothermal energy projects (GFDP) (on-site or online)
Part 4 - Benefits of geothermal energy projects (on-site or online)
Part 5 - Common pitfalls and risks 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 and Standards
• Interactive workshop tailored to organizational and project needs
• Project grounding for all involved stakeholders of the project
• Common development of project options and way forward