Geothermal energy has many advantages, it’s clean, green and renewable. And, it provides base load power i.e., produces power at a constant rate. But going from prospective site to fully operational power plant takes some time and it’s a fairly complicated process. This article will outline the steps, actions that go into a timeline of geothermal energy development.
Each geothermal energy project is different, so this timeline and details do not necessarily apply to every power plant. This is true because each geothermal resource is different and the power plant must match the resource. The following are the typical stages and details of the work, broken down into five stages:
Exploration and reconnaissance: geothermal exploration involves data collection and analysis and involves work in the geosciences disciplines including geologists and geochemistry. The work includes geophysical surveys, temperature gradient drilling and GIS (geographic information systems). The purpose is to determine if there is a commercially exploitable geothermal resource.
Pre-feasibility: includes additional data collection and analysis as well as more focused exploration based on preliminary findings. Additional activities include the drilling of slim wells (+300 m), and deeper exploration wells, resource evaluation and simple modeling. The pre-feasibility stage may also include environmental impact assessments. This stage becomes more focused on the most favorable location.
Feasibility: includes geothermal deep drilling of the first full-sized production well, confirmation wells, resource testing and resource power potential assessment. This stage also includes preliminary plant design. The feasibility stage determines the commercial level of the geothermal resource.
Design and Construction: includes drilling and testing of remaining wells, final geothermal plant design and plant construction. This stage includes power purchase agreements and the securing of financing.
Operations & Maintenance: includes monitoring systems, resource management, detailed modeling, plant maintenance, drilling of makeup wells. After commissioning, the geothermal power plant starts to render normal service of providing sustainable energy to the clients. With normal maintenance and responsible reservoir management and utilization, a geothermal power plant can provide renewable energy to the clients for decades.