DOE Awards $43M for Enhanced Geothermal Systems

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) yesterday announced funding awards
for research, development and demonstration of Enhanced Geothermal
Systems (EGS).

The DOE will provide up to $43.1 million over four years to 21 awardees
developing next-generation geothermal technologies. The awards include
a record 13 to first-time recipients.

Combined with the minimum industry cost-share of 20%, and subject to
annual appropriations, up to $78 million is slated for public-private
investment in these 21 projects over the next four years. Geographic
diversity makes these projects appealing as DOE looks to expand the
perception of EGS potential, new site locations may reveal new
opportunities. Additionally, these partnerships with universities will
encourage innovation, while the added value of our national
laboratories will lend expertise to project development.

DOE announced 17 awards in research and development that will
address aspects of engineered reservoir creation, management and
utilization at high temperatures up to 300°C and depths as great as
10,000 meters, including 12 awards to first-time recipients.

Four other recipients were selected for systems demonstration,
including one award to a first-time recipient. These awards will allow
testing and validation of stimulation techniques for improving
productivity of wells or increasing inter-well connectivity at existing
geothermal fields.

A list of award recipients by topic areas follows:

Component Technologies R&D: DOE awarded $8.7 million to fund
these projects for a total of up to $19.1 million over four years,
subject to annual appropriations. Award recipients will contribute up
to $11.2 million for a total of up to $30.3 million in public-private
research and development activities.

— Baker-Hughes, Inc (Houston, Texas): to develop an ultrasonic
borehole televiewer that can operate at a temperature of 300°C and at a
depth of 10,000 meters. The proposed tool will provide a means to
detect fractures in the subsurface and is critical for the
commercialization of EGS (up to $3,139,364)

Colorado School of Mines, Boise State University, Flint LLC, Mt. Princeton Geothermal LLC (Golden,
Colo.): to conduct a geophysical characterization of a geothermal
system taking advantage of the latest developments in Self Potential
Method and Seismic Interferometry (up to $867,564)

— Composite Technology with Wood Group ESP and New England Wire Technology (Lafayette,
Colo.): to develop and demonstrate Electric Submersible Pump (ESP)
motor coil designs that utilize proprietary inorganic insulation
materials. These materials can be applied to motor coil winding
conductors using conventional motor fabrication processes and provide
superior electrical performance at elevated temperatures (up to
$987,739)

— Foulger Consulting and U.S. Geological Survey, Geosystem with
WesternGeco, US Navy, Magma Energy US Corporation, and DOE’s Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory
(Menlo Park, Calif.): to develop
high-resolution micro-earthquake tools and methods suited to monitoring
EGS-induced geothermal micro-earthquakes. The ultimate goal is to
develop an industrial tool to obtain detailed seismic structure of
geothermal areas without the need for major active-source seismic
surveys (up to $561,729)

— GE Global Research with Auburn University and GE Energy (Niskayuna,
N.Y.): to develop a platform of electronics technologies that can
operate at 300 °C and 10 km depth enabling the measurement of
temperature, flow, pressure and seismicity in an EGS reservoir (up to
$1,599,934)

— Hattenburg, Dilley, and Linnell, LLC with University of Utah/Energy and Geoscience Institute (EGI)
(Anchorage, Alaska): to identify open fracture systems by their Fluid
Inclusion Stratigraphy (FIS) chemical signature; differences based on
the mineral assemblages and geology of the system; and chemical
precursors in the wall rock above open, large fractures (up to
$313,858)

— Hi-Q Geophysical Inc., Ormat Technologies, Inc. and Stephen Muir with DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
(Ponca City, Okla.): to develop surface and borehole seismic
methodologies using both compression and shear waves for characterizing
fractures in EGS. Both VSP and surface multi-component acquisition
geometries will be evaluated (up to $817,757)

— Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chevron and DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory
(Cambridge, Mass.): to combine detailed high-resolution analysis of
microseismicity accompanying the stimulation of an EGS reservoir with a
state-of-the-art geomechanical model of the reservoir to investigate
the relationship between the seismicity and flow characteristics (up to
$508,633)

— Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New England Research with ENEL North America
(Cambridge, Mass.): to combine the use of geophysical methods for
reservoir and fracture characterization with a rock physics model
calibrated via advanced laboratory measurements made on reservoir rocks
under in situ conditions of temperature (up to 300°C) and pressure (up
to $1,019,769)

— Perma Works and Frequency Management International,
ElectroChemical Systems Inc, Draka Cableteq, Pacific Process Systems
Inc, Tiger Wireline Inc, Viking Engineering, Kuster Company, Electronic
Workmanship Standards Inc, Eclipse NanoMed, Honeywell SSEC
(Albuquerque,
N.M.): to commercialize the Sandia/DOE HT SOI chipset by addressing the
most troubling issues found when designing for long-term exposure to
the geothermal well environments such as inter-metallic growth, printed
circuit board delamination, ceramic capacitors shorting, and the lack
of a safe HT battery (up to $2,200,000)

— Schlumberger (Sugar Land, Texas): to extend the internal
operating range of Electrically Submersible Pump (ESP’s) to 338°C for
application in both geothermal and the increasingly hotter Steam
Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) wells and to develop a heat transfer
model that will adequately predict the ESP’s internal operating
temperature (up to $1,245,751)

— Schlumberger (Sugar Land, Texas): to develop a downhole
monitoring system to be used in wells with bottom hole temperatures up
to 300°C for measuring parameters of an Electrically Submersible Pump
(ESP) and well conditions (pressure and temperature) and develop a heat
transfer model for the motor that will adequately predict ESP internal
operating temperature (up to $1,253,959)

— Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.): to develop wellbore
tools including a downhole enthalpy meter and reservoir engineering
approaches including nanotechnology, Resistivity Computer Tomography
(RCT) method, and nonparametric regression for fracture
characterization in both near well and interwell regions (up to
$967,541)

— Texas A&M University with AltaRock, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of Mississippi (College
Station, Texas): to develop an improved seismicity-based reservoir
characterization (SBRC) technology by combining rock mechanics, finite
element modeling, geo-statistical concepts, and state-of-the-art
stochastic inversion techniques to establish relationships between
micro-seismicity, reservoir flow and geomechanical characteristics (up
to $820,198)

— Texas A&M University with AltaRock, DOE’s Sandia National Laboratory and University of Mississippi
(College Station, Texas): to develop a 3-D numerical model for
simulating tensile, shear, and out-of-plane propagation of multiple
fractures and fracture clusters to accurately predict geothermal
reservoir stimulation using the novel approach of Virtual
Multi-dimensional Internal Bond (VMIB) (up to $690,953)

— University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah): Demonstrate
absorbing tracers, measure near-well fracture surface area via tracer
modeling, and develop a tool that measures fluid flow via tracers. (up
to $1,091,039)

— University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah): to investigate the
effect of proppants on fracture stability and their interactions with
injected fluids at geothermal temperatures in environments that
simulate stresses within the reservoir. The use of proppants to both
maintain open fractures, as well as their potential to divert fluids
from fracture pathways detrimental to long term sustainability (e.g.
fast paths), will be assessed (up to $978,180)

System Demonstrations: DOE awarded $3.7 million to fund these
projects, for a total of up to approximately $24 million over four
years, subject to annual appropriations. Industry alone will contribute
an additional $23.7 million, an almost 50 percent cost-share. This
total of up to $47.7 million shows tremendous cooperative effort in EGS
development. The success of these projects could result in over 400 MWe
in new grid capacity within the next five years.

— AltaRock Energy Inc. and Northern California Power Agency,
University of Utah, Texas A&M University, Science Applications
International Corporation, Temple University
(Seattle, WA): to use
an innovative stimulation process to create an EGS reservoir that will
drill below the permeable zone, stimulate in the contained zone with
infrastructure in place, and increase power production (up to
$6,014,351)

— Geysers Power Co., LLC and DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Middletown,
Calif.): to deepen wells into a high temperature zone and thermally
stimulate with cold water to increase power production (up to
$5,697,700)

— ORMAT Nevada, Inc. and GeothermEx, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory, University of Utah, Pinnacle Technologies,
GeoMechanics International, University of Nevada – Reno,
TerraTek/Schlumberger
(Reno, Nev.): to stimulate multiple wells at Brady Field to access existing fracture system (up to $3,374,430)

— University of Utah and U.S. Geothermal, APEX Petroleum Engineering Services, HiPoint Reservoir Imaging, Chevron
(Salt Lake City, Utah): To perform a monitored hydraulic stimulation of
an existing injection well at Raft River (Selected for negotiation of
award in FY09) (up to $8,928,999)

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