Hybrid Geothermal Systems

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Hybrid geothermal systems combine geothermal energy with other renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic (PV), wind power, or biomass energy, to create a more diversified and resilient energy system. This integration offers several advantages over standalone geothermal or other renewable energy systems, including increased energy generation consistency, improved grid stability, and reduced reliance on fossil fuel-based backup power.

Impact on climate action

Hybrid Geothermal Systems in the realm of Geothermal Energy amplify climate action by enhancing energy production efficiency. By combining traditional geothermal power generation with supplemental technologies like solar or biomass, these systems maximize renewable energy output, reduce emissions, and accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future, combating climate change.

Underlying
Technology

  • Geothermal Energy Source: Geothermal energy can be sourced from various types of geothermal resources, including hydrothermal reservoirs, EGS (Enhanced Geothermal Systems), and shallow geothermal energy.
  • Renewable Energy Sources: Hybrid systems incorporate additional renewable energy sources, such as solar PV panels, wind turbines, or biomass power plants.
  • System Integration and Control: Sophisticated control systems manage energy flows between the geothermal component and the other renewable energy sources, ensuring optimal performance and grid stability.
  • Energy Storage: Energy storage systems, such as batteries or pumped hydro storage, can be integrated into hybrid systems to store excess energy and provide a more consistent and reliable power supply.
  • Hybrid System Design: Different hybrid system designs exist, depending on the specific location, available resources, and energy needs. These designs can vary in the ratio of geothermal to other renewable energy sources, the type of geothermal technology used, and the integration of energy storage.

TRL : 6-7

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Hybrid Geothermal-PV Systems: Combining geothermal with solar PV can create a complementary system where solar energy generation peaks during the day when geothermal energy production may be more consistent. This can help to smooth out fluctuations in renewable energy generation and improve grid stability.
  • Hybrid Geothermal-Wind Systems: Integrating wind power with geothermal can provide a more consistent energy supply, as wind resources are often complementary to geothermal resources. This can reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based backup power and enhance energy security.
  • Hybrid Geothermal-Biomass Systems: Biomass energy can be used to supplement geothermal energy production during periods of low geothermal resource availability or during peak demand periods. This can provide a more reliable and sustainable energy source.
  • Geothermal-Powered Electrolyzers for Hydrogen Production: Excess geothermal energy can be used to power electrolyzers for green hydrogen production, creating a clean and sustainable fuel source for various applications.
  • Smart Grid Integration: Hybrid geothermal systems can be integrated with smart grids to optimize energy flows, participate in demand response programs, and enhance grid stability and resilience.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Geothermal-PV Integration
  • Geothermal-Wind Fusion
  • Biomass-GT Hybridization
  • Hydrogen Production from Geothermal
  • Hybrid Geothermal-Wind Synergy
  • Geothermal-Biomass Fusion
  • Renewable Energy Control Systems
  • Energy Storage in Hybrid Systems
  • Geothermal-Powered Hydrogen Production
  • Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS)
  • Hybrid System Design Optimization
  • Advanced Drilling Techniques
  • Geothermal Reservoir Management
  • Integrated Energy Systems Modeling
  • Thermal Energy Storage Solutions
  • District Heating and Cooling Networks
  • Hybrid Energy Grid Stability Solutions

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Ormat Technologies:
    • Technology Enhancement: Ormat Technologies is a global leader in geothermal energy production and innovation. They specialize in the development, design, and operation of geothermal power plants, including hybrid systems that integrate geothermal energy with other renewable energy sources such as solar and biomass. Their hybrid geothermal systems optimize energy production and grid stability by combining the constant baseload power of geothermal with the intermittent nature of other renewables.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Ormat Technologies stands out for its extensive experience and expertise in geothermal energy development and its commitment to innovation in hybrid energy solutions. Their hybrid geothermal systems leverage proprietary technology and advanced control systems to maximize energy output, minimize environmental impact, and enhance grid reliability.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Ormat Technologies serves utility companies, independent power producers, and governments seeking clean and reliable energy solutions. Their hybrid geothermal systems are deployed in various regions worldwide, providing sustainable electricity generation for communities, industries, and remote areas with geothermal resources.
  2. U.S. Geothermal Inc.:
    • Technology Enhancement: U.S. Geothermal Inc. is a renewable energy company focused on the development, operation, and maintenance of geothermal power plants. While they are primarily known for their geothermal projects, they may also explore hybrid geothermal systems that integrate geothermal with other renewable energy sources. Their expertise lies in geothermal resource assessment, project development, and plant operations.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: U.S. Geothermal Inc. stands out for its focus on geothermal energy development in the United States and its potential to explore hybrid geothermal systems as part of their renewable energy portfolio. Their projects contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and diversifying the energy mix in regions with geothermal resources.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: U.S. Geothermal Inc. serves utility companies, municipalities, and other energy stakeholders seeking clean and sustainable energy solutions. Their geothermal and potential hybrid geothermal projects provide reliable baseload power, contributing to grid stability and energy security.
  3. Enel Green Power:
    • Technology Enhancement: Enel Green Power is a leading renewable energy company with a diverse portfolio of wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal projects worldwide. While they may not specialize specifically in hybrid geothermal systems, they have the expertise and resources to explore innovative energy solutions that integrate multiple renewable sources. Their focus is on sustainable energy development and decarbonization.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Enel Green Power stands out for its global presence, scale, and commitment to sustainability in the energy sector. Their diversified renewable energy portfolio reflects their dedication to advancing clean energy technologies and reducing environmental impact.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Enel Green Power serves a wide range of customers, including utility companies, industrial consumers, and governments seeking renewable energy solutions. Their projects contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy and support the achievement of climate goals at the local, national, and international levels.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University is at the forefront of research on Hybrid Geothermal Systems, focusing on integrating geothermal energy with other renewable energy sources and energy storage technologies to enhance overall system efficiency, flexibility, and reliability.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of innovative hybrid geothermal systems that combine traditional geothermal power generation with solar, wind, or battery storage technologies. They explore advanced control strategies, thermal energy storage, and hybrid power plant configurations to optimize energy production, grid integration, and cost-effectiveness.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in electricity generation, district heating, and industrial process heat. By developing hybrid geothermal systems, Stanford’s research contributes to decarbonizing the energy sector, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing energy security and resilience.
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT conducts pioneering research on Hybrid Geothermal Systems, leveraging its expertise in geosciences, engineering, and renewable energy systems to develop novel approaches for harnessing geothermal resources in conjunction with other clean energy technologies.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of advanced drilling techniques, reservoir engineering methods, and heat exchanger designs for enhancing the performance and scalability of hybrid geothermal systems. They also explore integrated energy systems modeling, techno-economic analysis, and policy frameworks to assess the feasibility and potential benefits of hybrid geothermal projects.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in power generation, heating and cooling, and geothermal district heating networks. By advancing hybrid geothermal systems, MIT’s research supports the transition to a low-carbon energy future and promotes sustainable development of geothermal resources worldwide.
  3. Technical University of Munich (TUM):
    • Research Focus: TUM is engaged in innovative research on Hybrid Geothermal Systems, drawing on its expertise in geothermal engineering, renewable energy technologies, and system integration to develop holistic solutions for maximizing the utilization and value of geothermal resources.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the optimization of hybrid geothermal systems for various geological settings, climate conditions, and energy demand profiles. They investigate innovative heat exchange concepts, thermal energy storage solutions, and hybrid power plant configurations to address technical challenges and enhance system performance and reliability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in urban energy systems, industrial processes, and geothermal heating and cooling networks. By developing hybrid geothermal systems, TUM’s research contributes to energy transition goals, promotes renewable energy deployment, and fosters innovation in the geothermal industry.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Hybrid geothermal systems are being implemented in various locations around the world, providing a more diversified and resilient energy supply. For example, the Menengai geothermal project in Kenya is a hybrid geothermal-solar PV project that combines geothermal power generation with solar energy to provide a reliable and sustainable energy source for the region.