Facing the Heat: Better Technology Helps Meet Growing Geothermal Demand

Posted by Samhita Shah on Mar 28, 2016 1:00:56 PM RSS Share Post

Demand for geothermal energy continues to grow at a steady pace around the globe.  According to the 2016 Annual U.S. & Global Geothermal Power Production Report, a recent study published by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), data show a total of 18 new geothermal power plants came online in 2015, adding about 313 MW of new capacity to electricity grids globally.  The global market is at about 13.3 GW of operating capacity as of January 2016, spread across 24 countries. This year the global geothermal market was developing about 12.5 GW of planned capacity spread across 82 countries. Based on current data, the global geothermal industry is expected to reach about 18.4 GW by 2021.  Overall, if all countries follow through on their geothermal power development goals and targets the global market could reach 32 GW by the early 2030s.

To continue to meet growth demands, producers of geothermal energy will need to step up operations. The GEA study concludes communities and governments around the world have only tapped 6-7 percent of the total global potential for geothermal power based on current geologic knowledge and technology. There are vast untapped resources that could provide baseload renewable energy to grids across the globe, as well as supply a variety of direct uses including heating buildings (either individually or whole towns), raising plants in greenhouses, drying crops, heating water at fish farms, and several industrial processes, such as pasteurizing milk.

Geothermal resources and enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) are often associated with unique operational challenges due to extreme temperatures, pressures and complex geology.  Paradigm recognized the complexities of harnessing geothermal energy early on, and brought more than 30 years of technological advancements developed for oil and gas, mining and environmental uses to the geothermal energy market through a comprehensive offering of customized subsurface software solutions and services. 

We set about to optimize resource development in geothermal plays, from simple to complex, by integrating all resource information within a unified 3D reservoir modeling environment.  By doing that, we were able to improve understanding of the relationships between water injection/steam production, induced seismicity, and fracture systems.  This led to an ultimate understanding of fluid flow paths for long-term, sustainable reservoir management.

Using this approach, we have been able to help discover geoscience, drilling and reservoir engineering correlations critical for assessing and developing geothermal plays, and create a centralized location for both data and interpretations, as illustrated in the figure below.


Integrated view of geologic model, microseismic data and stimulated rock volume

Geothermal operators can now leverage these advanced technologies to improve:

  • Resource discovery and assessment
  • Multi-type data integration and management
  • Thermal 3D visualization, geologic modeling and time-dependent data analysis
  • Thermal decline analysis and production forecasting
  • Seismicity monitoring and reporting
  • Natural and induced fracture detection
  • Well planning and drilling engineering
  • Risk assessment and mitigation

According to an abstract published at this year's Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering at Stanford University, Calpine Corporation reported developing a three-dimensional structural model of The Geysers geothermal field by using Paradigm Geophysical SKUA-GOCAD software. Quoting Calpine, "Structural model building constraints include lithology logs, surface geologic maps and seismicity hypocenters available from the Northern California Earthquake Data Center (NCEDC) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), as well as temperature logs, pressure logs, tracer analysis patterns, heat flow patterns, and reservoir history matching...

Recent advances to the SKUA-GOCAD 3D seismicity analysis software include the ability to perform synchronized time animation of water injection volumes and induced seismicity hypocenters at any time interval. This provides an additional and substantial constraint on structural model building through enhanced visualization of the spatiotemporal relationships between water injection, induced seismicity and fracture orientations at The Geysers. The result is a refined understanding of structural relationships, fluid flow paths, fluid boundaries, reservoir heterogeneity and compartmentalization at The Geysers.

"...The 3D structural model development is part of a program to honor a vast collection of field data and more closely link geoscience, reservoir engineering and drilling. This is anticipated to contribute to reservoir management and induced seismicity mitigation efforts at The Geysers."

At Paradigm, we remain mindful of the geothermal market trends outlined by the GEA 2016 study. It states that, in the last decade, the global geothermal industry grew slowly but steadily, adding several hundred MWs online each year without pause. And, according to GEA, it seems likely this trend will continue if not accelerate as climate change becomes an increasingly important driver of energy choices in developing countries and around the world.

We invite you to join Paradigm at this upcoming Webinar geared to help you better enhance reservoir management at all resource development stages in your geothermal operations. 

March 31 – Webinar: Applying Advanced Geophysical Software for Better Results in -Geothermal Plays – Presented by Paradigm’s Hassane Kassouf, Global Technical Business Director for Reservoir Modeling and Geologic Interpretation Solutions. 



Learn more about Paradigm's solution for geothermal energy.

Tags: SKUA-GOCAD, Enhanced Geothermal Systems, geyser reservoir, geothermal, Reservoir Management