Critical R&D needs for EGS have been identified as:
• Downhole pumps.
• Fracture characterization.
• Image fluid flow.
• High-temperature logging tools and sensors.
• Stimulation prediction models.
• Tracers and tracer interpretation.
• Zonal isolation.
The DOE has allocated $40 million for R&D projects focusing on these technologies, and $50 million will go towards demonstration projects that stimulate existing unproductive geothermal reservoirs. The demonstration projects will be cost-shared with industry.
The commercialization of EGS would mean lots of new wells (injection and production wells) will need to be drilled, according to Steven Chalk, deputy assistant secretary for renewable energy.
He also noted that the DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Program has funded research since 1979 – many of which have led to technologies that enhanced oil and gas drilling. These include PDC bits, high-temperature electronics, acoustic telemetry, diagnostics-while-drilling, high-temperature polyurethane grouts, slimhole drilling and insulated drill pipe.
Drilling contractor companies participating in the meeting included Nabors Drilling, Grey Wolf Drilling, Kenai Mid-Continent and ThermaSource. Sandia National Laboratories also was present, and IADC was represented by Steve Kropla, group vice president – operations & accreditation.
For more information on geothermal drilling, please visit the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website at www.eere.energy.gov.