2019 in Review

The Utah FORGE project made a number of important advances in 2019 in preparation for the start of deep drilling in 2020. Instrumentation for seismic monitoring was enhanced with the drilling of two new vertical holes, 68-32 (1000’ deep) and 78-32 (3200’ depth), which house permanently installed downhole geophones (68-32) and a distributed acoustic sensing cable (78-32). The new downhole seismic monitoring was augmented with the temporary installation of a Schlumberger multi-level geophone string in 78-32, plus surface deployment of a high-density nodal array. All of this high-resolution seismic monitoring was put in place for stimulation experiments in well 58-32 that were run over a two and a half week period in late April.

Key outcomes of the stimulation include verification that the existing reservoir fracture network can be activated to transmit injected water. The work showed that there were multiple favorable intervals for stimulation in the well, including behind perforated casing. Microseismic events down to -2 magnitude tracked fluid flow in the stimulated intervals, proving the detection sensitivity of the seismic monitoring network. The resulting large data sets were processed and modeled using state of the art computer processing to understand the interplay of fracture dilation and fluid flow in the crystalline reservoir rock. A synthesis of this work is described in the Phase 2C topical report available from GDR.

Other notable outcomes in 2019 include improved understanding of geoscientific attributes. The Mineral Mountains West fault system was shown to terminate south of the Utah FORGE site. A flow test during the drilling of the shallow part of 78-32 proved adequate supply of non-potable groundwater for future needs. InSAR surveys indicate there was no induced ground deformation. Much of the research findings obtained from 2015 to 2018 were published by the Utah Geological Survey in an open access bulletin (UGS MP 169) entitled “Geothermal Characteristics of the Roosevelt Hot Springs System and Adjacent FORGE EGS site, Milford, Utah”, comprising 14 separate chapters.

Hearing: Water and Geothermal Power

"...The thermal energy beneath our feet is enormous (...) if we could capture even 2% of the thermal energy at depths between 2 and 6 miles, we would have more than 2000 times the yearly amount of energy used in the U.S. ..."

 

Dr. Joseph Moore, Manager and PI of the FORGE project gives testimony on geothermal to the Subcommittee on Energy of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology at a hearing titled "Water and Geothermal Power: Unearthing the Next Wave of Energy Innovation"
The purpose of this hearing is to examine research, development and demonstration needs for advancing water power and geothermal energy technologies.

Read the full testimony here

View and listen to the full hearing here

 

 

STAT formed for FORGE Initiative

Science and Technology Analysis Team Formed for FORGE Initiative.

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) initiative, a diverse group of experts, referred to as the Science and Technology Analysis Team (STAT), has been formed to support the Utah FORGE team. The STAT is comprised of the following members:

  • Doug Blankenship (Chair) – Sandia National Laboratories
  • Joseph Morris (Vice Chair) – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Kate Baker – Independent Consultant
  • Stephen Hickman – U.S. Geological Survey
  • Mack Kennedy – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • George King – GEK Engineering PLLC
  • Ernest Majer – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Affiliate
  • Jean-Claude Roegiers – Independent Consultant
  • Eric Sonnenthal – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Herbert Wang – University of Wisconsin, Madison

The STAT provides technical guidance to ensure that the Geothermal Technologies Office’s (GTO) objectives are considered and incorporated into the execution of FORGE and associated research and development (R&D). Specifically, the STAT will assess R&D needs in accordance with GTO roadmaps and goals, establish technical baseline information and performance specifications, review ongoing site characterization and monitoring efforts, develop topics for recurring FORGE R&D solicitations, provide guidance for review and selection of R&D projects, and develop out-year R&D strategies. The STAT will also assess the progress and results of R&D technology and techniques implemented at FORGE and provide input to the Utah FORGE team for the development of annual reports.

In April, the STAT convened for the first time in Salt Lake City. In addition to members of STAT, personnel from DOE and the Utah FORGE team also attended. The meeting served as a powerful reminder of the potential of the FORGE initiative to advance EGS to a place of commercial readiness. Initial public outputs of the meeting will be the release of the first round of FORGE R&D funding opportunity announcements (FOAs), scheduled for later in calendar year 2019.

FORGE will be a dedicated site where the subsurface science and engineering community will be able to develop, test and improve new technologies and techniques directed at the development of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).

The Geothermal Technologies Office would like to thank the University of Utah team and the STAT members for their hard work and leadership. Their contributions serve as a powerful reminder of the potential of advancing EGS to a place of commercial readiness through this groundbreaking initiative!

At the Governor’s Energy Summit

Among the many speakers and participants at this year's Summit were leaders and proponents of renewable energy sources.  This was the Eight's Annual Governor's Energy Summit and second  for the UtahFORGE team to represent the project which was among the few mentioned in the speeches by the Utah Governor's Energy Advisor Laura Nelson, Utah's Governor Gary Herbert, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and the EERE Assistant Secretary Daniel Simmons.

You can listen to the opening speech by the Utah's Governor Gary Herbert featured in this post by FOX13 news (scroll down to the second video, mention @ 4:25 time).

There is "enormous untapped potential for geothermal energy in the United States" said U.S. Secretary Rick Perry on the heels of the newly released study by the Department of Energy: GeoVision: Harnessing the Heat Beneath Our Feet.

 

 

Generating Power:

These small hands-on modules developed by Dr. Anthony Butterfield and Andy Simonson from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Utah  are some of the tools that help in understanding how energy can be produced, eg. heat transfer.

Phase 2C Activities at the Site

In March, 2019, the two new vertical wells for monitoring were completed. The shallow well (68-32) was drilled to 970 ft depth, penetrating alluvial sands and gravel. The deeper well (78-32) was drilled to about 3300 ft depth, having intersected the contact with granitic basement rock aroun d 2600 ft depth.  Both wells were instrumented with state-of-the-art sensors.  Two borehole seismometers were installed into the bottom of well 68-32, whereas an optoelectronic Distributed Acoustic Sensor (DAS) cable was installed into well 78-32.

 

During the drilling of 78-32, an aquifer test was performed, which proved production of 46°C water from about 700-900 ft depth at 200 gallons per minute. This warm water represents subsurface outflow from Roosevelt Hot Springs, and it is non-potable due to high TDS, making it ideal for future use at the Utah FORGE project.

In April the stimulation phase was completed with great success. Injection tests were run at three distinct depth intervals in the reservoir granite; the first was in the open-hole section, whereas the other two were at slightly higher level within the cased section of the well.

During these tests, fluid flow and fracture opening were detected by both the Schlumberger geophone string array and the DAS cable in well 78-32. Televiewer logs were run in the open-hole section of 58-32 to assess the injection test effects. All of the data are now being processed.

 

2019 Geothermal Design Challenge Winners

Winning teams have been announced in the 2019 Geothermal Design Challenge™ Data Visualization contest. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO), in partnership with the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), hosted the student competition that launched in January and concluded in April. The student competition challenged teams to research FORGE data, interpret information and create a data visualization portfolio that recommended a location within the FORGE footprint where an enhanced geothermal reservoir could be created with minimal environmental consequences.

Read more

Phase 2C Activities Kick-off

The snow is receding and the drilling of two new monitor wells for the Utah FORGE laboratory starts this week. The first well is being drilled to 1000’ and the second well will go to 3000’.  Both are situated near the existing deep well, 58-32, that was completed in 2017. The new wells being much shallower, should be completed by early April, when they will be instrumented with state of the art sensors. During the drilling process, geologists and engineers will be on site, in order to provide important information about rock types and shallow groundwater resources.

For background, this phase of work involves bringing the site up to readiness to drill the two deep wells later in the year that will become the centerpiece of the FORGE laboratory. In the short term, activities are focused on:

  • installation of a permanent seismic monitoring network
  • building infrastructure (power, site office, communications hub, upgraded roads)
  • mini-flow injection testing and interpretation of results
  • acquiring additional field data to refine geoscientific understanding
  • convening of the Science & Technology Analysis Team (STAT).

Geothermal Design Challenge

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO), in partnership with the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), invites both high school and university (undergraduate & graduate) teams to explore the future of geothermal energy and visualize the world of geothermal energy by participating in the 2019 Geothermal Data Visualization Design Challenge. Teams of 2 or 3 members will research data, interpret information and create a data visualization portfolio that will tell a compelling story about geothermal energy.

Geothermal Design ChallengeTM begins January 7