Researchers undertaking Energy Department play fairway analysis sift through subsurface data to locate the most promising sites for geothermal exploration drilling.
Geothermal energy today has expanded its horizons beyond traditional, surface-identified hydrothermal resources to include blind hydrothermal systems—without surface expression, enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), and low-temperature systems. These varied types of geothermal resources comprise a substantial potential for economic opportunity and the capability to significantly increase power generation, direct use, and other applications from geothermal energy.
However, major questions remain as to how to best locate and qualify these resources. Without a tested screening criteria, the search for these blind systems can be time- and resource-intensive, with a low probability of success. Developing a systematic approach early in the exploration process will improve the success rate of geothermal development projects while reducing overall exploration costs, which will improve access to financing for drilling.
The concept of "play fairway analysis" has been used to identify potential locations of blind hydrothermal systems and describe geothermal opportunities in rift-zone settings. Borrowed from the petroleum industry, this tool incorporates the regional or basin-wide distribution of known geologic factors besides heat flow that control the occurrence of a particular example of a geothermal system.Conducting play fairway analysis in unexplored or underexplored basins or regions or using new play concepts in basins with known geothermal potential is central to this effort.
The Geothermal Technologies Office announced selection of innovative projects totalling $4 million.
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View the project posters to learn more about the location and scope of each project.