BEG Friday Seminar Series
||January 9, 2015 at 9:00 am
||January 9, 2015 at 10:00 am|
| ||Location:||BEG Main Conference Room; Building 130; PRC Campus|
| ||Contact:||Sophia Ortiz, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512.475.9588|
| ||URL:||Event Link|
Project Manager, STARR Geothermal Research Program
Bureau of Economic Geology
The Bureau of Economic Geology was at the forefront of geothermal research in deep sediments throughout the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. Lower oil prices and a national emphasis on wind and solar energy led to a decline in interest in geothermal research at the Bureau. Nationally and internationally, however, there continued to be dynamic programs for development of high temperature magmatic sources of geothermal energy so that today, there are over 3,400 MWs of installed geothermal generating capacity in the United States, and over 13,000 MWs of installed capacity worldwide. The SMU Geothermal Lab led by David Blackwell maintained an active and productive research program during the interim period of the 1990s to 2008 and fortunately, beginning in 2009, the Bureau joined with SMU and with the Arizona State Geological Survey to revive and expand geothermal research at the Bureau. What has been accomplished over the last six years? Most importantly, with funding provided by the US Department of Energy, the Bureau of Economic Geology participated in populating the National Geothermal Data System (http://geothermaldata.org/). This is a catalog of documents and datasets that provide information nationwide on geothermal energy resources. SMU also maintains a data access node that can be found at (http://geothermal.smu.edu/gtda/). The purposes of developing the data sets were to assist private developers in reducing risk at the exploration stage of geothermal energy projects. SMU and The Bureau together provided the largest contribution of geothermal information to this national program, more than any other state.
Continuing research at the Bureau has focused on analyzing the information contained in the newly accessible electronic files and in understanding the trends and anomalies that are beginning to reveal themselves using computer-aided statistical analysis. Further, and building on reservoir analysis methodologies from the petroleum industry, we are assembling information on formation thicknesses and projected yields for those zones that contain fluids sufficient for geothermal energy production. The bottom hole temperature dataset has also proved valuable to other researchers at the Bureau and in particular, has assisted in the analyses ongoing within the Sloan Shale Gas project. In cooperation with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories we have completed a project looking at the efficiencies of using supercritical carbon dioxide as a heat extraction fluid. The proposed climate mitigation program, of carbon sequestration in deep geological repositories, is a costly but may be a viable program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, but if these same volumes of carbon dioxide are compressed into a supercritical state, and used as a heat extraction fluid, the efficiency of the production of geothermal energy can be increased by over 50 percent while at the same time permanently sequestrating large volumes of carbon dioxide. The economics of this approach may be sufficiently attractive to overcome the added cost of carbon capture; this is an active area of research now, both here at the Bureau and in the UT Petroleum Engineering Department.
The Bureau is also engaged in assessing the economic competitiveness of geothermal energy in the State with support from the STARR program. Geothermal energy production has several advantages over wind and solar as geothermal is not intermittent in nature and can serve as base load power supply. Further, land use per installed megawatt is significantly less with geothermal and there are no carbon emissions. Capital costs per installed megawatt are generally higher for geothermal per name plate installed megawatt when compared with solar and wind while the Levelized cost of energy is generally less for geothermal. Solar and wind power generation LCOE do not include the cost of system integration or the additional costs to address the intermittency of the source. Coal and natural gas are still less costly in cents per kilowatt-hour, but if the additional cost of carbon capture or carbon sequestration are included, geothermal energy production then becomes the most cost effective method of power generation of renewable or conventional energy sources.
The following have provided substantial contribution to this presentation:
William Ambrose, PI for STARR Oil and Gas and a source of Reservoir Information and Parameters
Svetlana Ikonnikova, PI Sloan Project and a source of economic insight
Bob Hardage, Geophysics applied to thermal boundaries
Daniel Zafar, Research Assistant
Tracy Terrall, Research Assistant
Harold Rogers, GIS
Dave Blackwell, Maria Richards and Cathy Chickering at SMU Geothermal Lab