Geothermal Resource Exploration and Assessment

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Geothermal resource exploration and assessment involve identifying and evaluating potential geothermal resources for energy production. This process includes various geological, geophysical, and geochemical techniques to locate and characterize geothermal reservoirs, assess their potential for energy generation, and determine the feasibility of developing them into geothermal power plants or direct-use applications.

Impact on climate action

Geothermal Resource Exploration and Assessment under the Geothermal Energy theme accelerate climate action by identifying viable geothermal sites. By enabling efficient harnessing of Earth’s heat, this innovation promotes renewable energy adoption, reduces reliance on fossil fuels, and mitigates greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to a sustainable and resilient energy future.

Underlying
Technology

  • Geological Mapping and Analysis: Geological mapping and analysis of rock formations, fault lines, and other geological features help identify potential geothermal resource areas.
  • Geophysical Surveys: Geophysical methods, such as seismic surveys, gravity surveys, and magnetotelluric surveys, provide information about the subsurface structure and properties of rock formations, helping to locate and characterize geothermal reservoirs.
  • Geochemical Analysis: Geochemical analysis of water and gas samples from hot springs, wells, and other sources provides information about the temperature, chemistry, and origin of geothermal fluids, helping to assess the potential of geothermal resources.
  • Reservoir Modeling: Reservoir modeling techniques are used to simulate the behavior of geothermal reservoirs and predict their long-term performance and sustainability.
  • Drilling and Exploration Wells: Exploration wells are drilled to confirm the presence of geothermal resources and gather data on reservoir characteristics.

TRL : 6-7

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Geophysical Imaging Techniques: Innovations in geophysical imaging technologies, such as 3D seismic imaging and magnetotelluric imaging, are providing more detailed and accurate information about subsurface geothermal resources.
  • Geochemical Tracers and Isotopes: Geochemical tracers and isotopes can be used to track the movement of geothermal fluids and understand reservoir dynamics.
  • Machine Learning and AI for Resource Assessment: AI and machine learning algorithms are being used to analyze geological, geophysical, and geochemical data to improve the accuracy and efficiency of geothermal resource assessment.
  • Remote Sensing Techniques: Satellite imagery and other remote sensing techniques can be used to identify potential geothermal resource areas and monitor surface manifestations of geothermal activity.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Integration of Geophysical and Geochemical Data
  • Next-Generation Reservoir Modeling
  • Geothermal Data Analytics Platforms
  • Deep Learning Applications in Resource Assessment
  • Multispectral Satellite Imaging for Resource Identification
  • Seismic Attribute Analysis for Reservoir Characterization
  • Innovative Fluid Tracing Techniques
  • Reservoir Simulation and Forecasting Tools
  • Novel Risk Assessment Methodologies
  • Geothermal Data Fusion Techniques
  • Autonomous Exploration Technologies
  • Adaptive Reservoir Management Algorithms

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Fervo Energy:
    • Technology Enhancement: Fervo Energy focuses on advanced geothermal technology to harness deep earth heat for sustainable energy production. They utilize innovative drilling techniques, reservoir engineering, and geoscientific methods to explore and assess geothermal resources efficiently. Their approach aims to unlock high-temperature geothermal reservoirs for enhanced energy extraction.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Fervo Energy stands out for its expertise in next-generation geothermal technology and its commitment to reducing the cost and environmental footprint of geothermal energy production. Their innovative approach to resource exploration and assessment enables the development of scalable and cost-effective geothermal projects.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Fervo Energy serves utilities, developers, and governments seeking clean and reliable energy solutions. Their geothermal projects can provide baseload power, heating, and industrial process heat to various end-users, contributing to decarbonization efforts and energy security.
  2. AltaRock Energy:
    • Technology Enhancement: AltaRock Energy specializes in engineered geothermal systems (EGS) technology for geothermal resource exploration and development. They employ advanced drilling, stimulation, and reservoir engineering techniques to create and enhance geothermal reservoirs in deep rock formations. Their approach aims to unlock the vast potential of enhanced geothermal systems for sustainable energy production.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: AltaRock Energy stands out for its leadership in EGS technology and its focus on expanding the reach of geothermal energy to regions with limited traditional geothermal resources. Their innovative approach to reservoir creation and optimization opens up new opportunities for large-scale geothermal power generation and heat recovery.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: AltaRock Energy serves energy developers, utilities, and industrial clients interested in geothermal power and heat solutions. Their EGS projects can provide renewable energy, district heating, and geothermal direct use applications, addressing the diverse needs of end-users in the energy transition.
  3. Eavor Technologies:
    • Technology Enhancement: Eavor Technologies pioneers the development of closed-loop geothermal systems, known as the Eavor-Loop, for scalable and sustainable heat and power generation. Their technology involves drilling deep wells to create a subsurface heat exchanger network, which circulates a working fluid to capture geothermal heat. This closed-loop system eliminates the need for fracking or reservoir stimulation, making it environmentally friendly.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Eavor Technologies stands out for its revolutionary approach to geothermal energy, offering a scalable and cost-effective alternative to traditional geothermal systems. The Eavor-Loop technology has the potential to unlock geothermal resources worldwide, enabling widespread adoption of clean and renewable energy.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Eavor Technologies targets utilities, industrial users, and communities seeking reliable and sustainable energy solutions. Their closed-loop geothermal systems can provide baseload power, heating, and cooling for various applications, including electricity generation, district heating, and industrial processes.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University is a leader in geothermal research, with a focus on developing advanced techniques for resource exploration and assessment. Their research encompasses geophysical surveys, geochemical analysis, and numerical modeling to characterize subsurface reservoirs and identify optimal locations for geothermal development.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the integration of seismic imaging, gravity and magnetic surveys, and electromagnetic methods to map geological structures, fluid pathways, and heat sources beneath the Earth’s surface. They also employ machine learning algorithms and data analytics to interpret geophysical data and predict reservoir properties, enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of geothermal resource assessment.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in geothermal exploration, site selection, and reservoir management. By improving the understanding of subsurface geology and hydrothermal systems, Stanford’s research enables the development of cost-effective and sustainable geothermal projects for electricity generation, heating, and direct use applications.
  2. University of California, Berkeley:
    • Research Focus: UC Berkeley conducts innovative research on geothermal resource exploration and assessment, leveraging its expertise in earth sciences, geophysics, and geothermal engineering. Their research aims to advance the understanding of geothermal systems, mitigate exploration risks, and optimize reservoir development strategies.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the integration of geological mapping, geodetic monitoring, and numerical modeling to characterize reservoir properties, fluid flow dynamics, and thermal behavior in geothermal fields. They also investigate the influence of geological structures, fault networks, and hydrothermal alteration on reservoir performance, utilizing advanced imaging techniques and geospatial analysis tools.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work support geothermal resource assessment, exploration drilling, and reservoir management. By providing insights into reservoir behavior and sustainability, UC Berkeley’s research contributes to the development of reliable and efficient geothermal projects for power generation, district heating, and industrial applications.
  3. Oregon State University:
    • Research Focus: Oregon State University is actively engaged in research on geothermal resource exploration and assessment, leveraging its proximity to geologically active regions and extensive geothermal research infrastructure. Their research spans field surveys, geophysical modeling, and geothermal data analysis to characterize subsurface reservoirs and evaluate their potential for energy extraction.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the deployment of surface geophysical techniques, borehole logging tools, and remote sensing technologies to map subsurface geology, temperature gradients, and fluid properties in geothermal reservoirs. They also develop geospatial databases, GIS-based models, and decision support systems to aid in site selection, risk assessment, and resource management.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in geothermal exploration, resource assessment, and reservoir optimization. By advancing the understanding of geothermal systems and exploration technologies, Oregon State University’s research supports the sustainable development of geothermal energy resources for electricity generation, direct heating, and industrial processes.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Advanced geothermal resource exploration and assessment techniques are being used by geothermal developers and exploration companies around the world to identify and evaluate potential geothermal resources.