Geothermal Energy R&D

Greater investment in geothermal energy R&D

We’re participating in multimillion-dollar-funded geothermal R&D with governments and universities in Europe and North America. At our Houston Technology Center, we’re using two grants from the US Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Program to develop enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).

EGS are engineered reservoirs that produce energy otherwise uneconomical because of a lack of water and/or permeability. The DOE estimates EGS technology could supply at least 100,000 MW of electricity within 50 years.

One DOE program is creating a new geothermal ultrasonic fracture imager—rated for 572 deg. F [300 deg. C]—able to log at this temperature for up to three hr. The imager will sweep the entire borehole to characterize the geometry and fracture positioning during well development, including periodic fracture monitoring.

The second DOE program involves the design, construction, and testing of an EGS directional drilling system to improve economics and conventional geothermal well installation. The drilling system comprises a drill bit, directional motor, and drilling fluid capable of  operating 50 hr at 572 deg. F [300 deg. C] and at a depth up to 32,809 ft [10,000 m].

Improved geothermal energy drilling and completions technology

In Europe, at the Baker Hughes Celle Technology Center in Celle, Germany, we’re working with the federal government. Cofunded projects are concentrating on more cost-efficient drilling technology and enhanced electronic submersible pumping systems (ESPs) for geothermal wells. Integral to this research is the Celle high-temperature test loop to perfect new high-horsepower, high-volume ESP system technology for geothermal energy.

We’re also working with the Niedersachsen state government in Lower Saxony on a jointly launched, multimillion-euro, five-year cooperative university research project. The goal is to improve technology for generating geothermal energy from very deep geological formations 13,123 ft to 19,685 ft [4,000 m to 6,000 m]. New high-temperature electronics, drilling/evaluation, and completions/production applications also are a part of this effort.

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