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Operating at Extremes: Tools for Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Operating at Extremes: Tools for Enhanced Geothermal Systems
September 21, 2018
Washington, D.C. 

ARPA-E hosted a roundtable discussion on “Operating at Extremes: Tools for Enhanced Geothermal Systems” on September 21, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

The United States possesses a massive strategic asset in its supply of geothermal energy: deep, extremely hot (3-10 km, 150-350+ ºC) enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) represent a renewable resource capable of delivering hundreds of gigawatts of baseload electricity. Moreover, utilizing this resource leverages many of the domestic oil & gas industry’s sophisticated subsurface techniques and sources of human capital. However, U.S. geothermal production has been stagnant at 6-7 GW for decades, owing to difficult technical requirements, similar risk profiles to oil & gas with lower profit margins, and geographic restrictions for current shallow geothermal plants.

EGS has the potential to improve the economics and lessen the geographic restrictions of geothermal energy, but unlocking this resource will require step-changes in surveying and drilling technologies. This roundtable convened leading experts in academic geosciences, petroleum engineering, enhanced geothermal systems, high-temperature electronics, space-based measurements, and geological storage to identify innovations in subsurface measurement and drilling techniques that could enable economic operation of EGS. Of particular interest are robust downhole electronics and low-cost remote measurement tools.

Participants lent  their expertise to help ARPA-E explore new technologies and formulate compelling metrics to define a successful research program. Areas of interest include:

- High-temperature, high-pressure, high-vibration (250-350+ ºC, 150+ MPa, 3+ G rms) downhole electronics including seismic, electromagnetic, and chemical sensing capabilities, and drill string telemetry;
- Novel drilling concepts and supporting electronics inherently suited to EGS temperatures, pressures, and rock types;
- Flow path design for optimal underground heat exchange, including supporting sensors and fracture monitoring techniques to achieve this;
- Measurements from micro- and nanosatellites such as microgravimetry and InSAR.
- Low-cost, high-resolution surface-based measurement techniques;
- Value propositions for EGS-related tools and factors that could incentivize their deployment;
- Realistic timeframes and metrics for these tools.




8:30 – 9:00 AM


9:00 – 9:15 AM

Jennifer Gerbi, Associate Director for Technology, ARPA-E

9:15 – 9:30 AM

Isik Kizilyalli, Program Director, ARPA-E

9:30 – 9:40 AM

Attendee Introductions

9:40 – 10:00 AM

GTO Overview and Perspectives on EGS
Sean Porse, DOE Geothermal Technologies Office

10:00 – 10:20 AM

EGS Cost and Performance Metrics
Chad Augustine, NREL

10:20 – 10:25 AM

Breakout 1 Overview and Objectives
Michael Campos and Lakshana Huddar, Fellows, ARPA-E

10:25 – 10:40 AM

Coffee break/Networking

10:40 – 12:00 PM

Breakout Session 1

12:00 – 1:00 PM


1:00 – 1:20 PM

Modeling and Characterization of Fracture Roughness and its Impact on Heat and Mass Transport Processes
Roland Horne, Stanford University

1:20 – 1:40 PM

Super Hot EGS: Reducing the Cost of Geothermal Through Technology Breakthrough
Susan Petty, AltaRock Energy

1:40 – 2:00 PM

Overview of modern well-logging technologies and applications
Yiqiao Song, Schlumberger-Doll Research Center

2:00 – 2:05 PM

Breakout 2 Overview and Objectives
Michael Campos and Lakshana Huddar, Fellows, ARPA-E

2:05 – 2:20 PM

Coffee break/Networking

2:20 – 3:30 PM

Breakout Session 2

3:30 – 4:00 PM

Wrap-up/open discussion

4:00 – 6:00 PM

One-on-one meetings (optional)