Technology trends

Technology Trends for Future Geothermal Power Projects

Baker Hughes’ Ajit Menon speaking at WGC2020+1 in Reykjavik (source: WGC2020, Tom Urban)

An article by Baker Hughes discusses five technology trends that will contribute to the development of untapped geothermal resources.

Dr. Ghazal Izadi, Global Discipline Lead for Geothermal Reservoir Unconventionals and Technical Services at Baker Hughes, has written an article identifying five technology trends that will drive the geothermal industry forward. These technologies primarily focus on accessing previously untapped resources and ensuring that these projects are economically feasible. The full article is available here.

“There are many other opportunities where our technology can convert geothermal heat underground into geothermal energy – we assess the right application based on each geothermal development project,” says Dr. Ghazal Izadi. “Geothermal energy will be an essential part of the future energy mix – it can provide baseload energy when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. Developing a balanced mix of these renewables will ensure energy security.

Modern geothermal engineering services offer a holistic approach to development by providing solutions that both assess subsurface resources and design surface systems. This provides a more complete picture of the project’s economic feasibility, reduces project risk, reduces turnaround times, and improves system performance.

  • Solutions for improved geothermal systems

Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) refer to systems that do not have sufficient permeability or innate fluids. The solution is to stimulate the system using fluid pressure. EGS has been a major research area for geothermal developers and research institutes around the world. We recently published an article about the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) underground research lab focused on EGS.

Digital technologies are expected to play a vital role in making EGS projects feasible. Modeling software allows reservoirs to be represented as digital twins to provide critical information about geothermal systems. Monitoring systems allow real-time data collection from bottom and surface sensors. Progress has also been made in developing remote drilling systems that allow projects to be drilled without having to send a crew to the field.

Underground conditions in a geothermal system can be very harsh. Materials used for wells and downhole equipment must be able to withstand extreme temperatures and pressures, as well as the corrosive nature of geothermal fluids.

Baker Hughes Integrated Well Services (IWS) has developed an automatic vertical drilling system that ensures a perfectly vertical drilling path. This minimizes contact between the casing and the borehole, thus maintaining the integrity of the well. The use of non-metallic flexible pipes for geothermal fluids also reduces the effect of corrosion on surface installations.

Other efforts in this space include the development of the TenarisHydril Wedge 563(R) Corrosion Barrier liner by Tenaris. This provides a much more cost effective alternative to Corrosion Resistant Alloys (CRA) in downhole equipment.

Ultra-hot supercritical geothermal systems have the potential to generate ten times more energy with less water used and CO2 generated compared to conventional hydrothermal systems. However, there are many challenges associated with the development of such projects, including increased drilling depth and more aggressive geothermal fluids.

Baker Hughes is currently working with Alta Rock Energy to develop a super hot rock geothermal project at Newberry Volcano in Oregon, USA. This is also the main objective of the Geothermal The next generation project.

Additive manufacturing, more colloquially known as 3D printing, refers to a manufacturing process based on the controlled layer-by-layer deposition of materials into precise geometric shapes. This gives rise to the use of new materials to create parts in geometries that would not have been possible with more traditional manufacturing techniques.

Although the application of additive manufacturing in geothermal energy is still limited, the potential of this technology continues to be explored. Baker Hughes’ runner-up entry into the American-Made Challenges Geothermal Manufacturing Award is a backup ring for high pressure high temperature (HPHT) ultra-expansion packers for zonal isolation in geothermal wells. Additive manufacturing combined with machining was used to help these components withstand HPHT conditions.

Source: hugue baker