Salt intrusions providing a new geothermal exploration target for higher energy recovery at shallower depths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Direct use of geothermal energy can present challenges of financial feasibility in a low-enthalpy setting. The average temperature gradients in sedimentary basins make it necessary to reach larger depths for meaningful heat production, thus increasing the drilling cost. Therefore, full realization of geothermal projects in low-enthalpy environments has been difficult and not widely deployed. The concept of harvesting the positive temperature anomalies caused by the increased heat conductivity of salt bodies could enable access to higher temperatures at a shallower depth, thus reducing the necessary depth of drilling. In a potential site in NE Netherlands, temperature differences of up to 25 °C close to the top of a salt body are modeled. Substantiating this concept we show that the energetic benefits can result to up to 40% more energy extracted, while the temperature recovery of the field is only prolonged by 13%. This opens up new possibilities for geothermal applications in sedimentary basins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-670
Number of pages13
JournalEnergy
Volume118
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Direct use
  • Geothermal
  • NE Netherlands
  • Numerical model
  • Proof of concept
  • Salt dome heat flow

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