Task 1.3: Pilot and demonstration projects for reservoir creation

Research partners: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ), Alstom, Geo-Energie Suisse, NAGRA

Research objectives

In order to better understand the physical processes associated with geothermal reservoir creation appropriate experiments will be devised in different places. The primary goal is to improve our understanding of geomechanical processes underpinning permeability creation during hydraulic stimulation and related induced seismicity as well as to evaluate the efficiency of the generated underground heat exchanger.

Current projects

The project in the Deep Underground Geothermal Laboratory (DUG-Lab) aims at a better understanding of hydro-seismo-mechanical coupled processes that are associated with high pressure fluid injections in a crystalline rock mass. Experiments are carried out at laboratory scale (a few centimeters) and at an intermediate scale (a few tens of meters).

Currently, medium-scale experiments are carried out at the Grimsel Test Site, Switzerland (In-situ Stimulation and Circulation ISC). The project is divided into three main phases, namely a characterization phase, a stimulation phase and a circulation phase. The characterization phase includes geophysical and geological imaging of faults and fractures, and determination of the actual stress field by means of small hydro-fracturing experiments. During the stimulation phase, fault zone will be pressurized until slip occurs, and the associated permeability creation, pore pressure propagation, deformations and seismicity will be monitored. In a second step of the stimulation phase the massive rock mass between the faults will be hydro-fractured, which allows the circulation experiments to be conducted. The characterization phase could be completed in 2015, and it is expected that the stimulation experiments will be finished by mid 2017. The entire medium-scale experiment will be finished by the end of 2017. On the basis of the results, the following large-scale experiment will be established.

The total budget of the experiment is in the order of CHF 6.5 Mio, whereby CHF 1.8 Mio were contributed by Shell donation to ETH and a grant by EKZ. The remaining costs are covered through the SCCER-SoE, ETHZ and UniNe.

Research partners: ETH Zurich, Nagra, University of Neuchâtel

On 7 September 2016, the SCCER-SoE invited journalists for a visit to the Grimsel rock laboratory to explore the ISC experiment. Learn more about the journalists‘ impressions and the project in the following TV reports and newspaper articles:

Geo-Energie Suisse AG is developing a pilot and demonstration project for deep geothermal energy in the village of Haute-Sorne (Jura). Planned is a petrothermal deep geothermal project reaching down to 4000 – 5000 m. The system is projected to deliver up to 5 MWe and/or heat for industrial processes as well as district heating. The total project costs are roughly 100 Mio CHF. For the first time, the project will implement the so-called multi-fracture system in a granitic environment. Drilling is scheduled to start in 2017 or 2018.

The SCCER-SoE has already in Phase I collaborated closely with Geo-Energie Suisse AG (GES). The Haute-Sorne type project is a cornerstone of the deep geothermal energy roadmap of the SCCER-SoE and SCCER-SoE scientists played an important role in advancing the project, for example by developing strategies for assessing and mitigating seismic risk, for optimizing the reservoir design and monitoring strategies. The Haute-Sorne Project is also a demonstration site in the EU Horizon2020 funded project DESTRESS (2016 – 2020), where ETH Zurich and GES have together a budget of about 7 Mio Euro. 

In Phase II, these links will become even more critical: Enabling the success of the Haute-Sorne project is one of the highest priorities of the deep geothermal energy activities of the SCCER-SoE. Many SCCER-SoE activities will be targeted towards enabling the technology but also in using the data from Haute-Sorne for calibration, upscaling and validation of methods and results, such as strategies for adaptive traffic light seismic monitoring systems, underground heat exchanger design, construction, and optimization, as well as research on optimal fluid circulation and associated heat extraction strategies.

Research partners: Geo-Energie Suisse AG, ETH Zurich, University of Neuchâtel

Project website

This demonstration project will be implemented as part of the “Geothermie 2020” program of the Canton of Geneva. A step-wise approach including drilling wells (production and storage) at progressively increasing depths (1500-2500 m) will be performed by SIG during Phase II (Q4 2016 – 2017). This will provide the opportunity to test and validate the effectiveness of exploration concepts and models developed within WP1 as well as proof the feasibility of direct heat production and subsurface storage potential in sedimentary basins at relatively shallow depths. The project is already approved and in advanced stage of realization.

Research partners: University of Geneva, University of Bern, Services Industriels de Genève (SIG)

According to IEA, IPCC and COP21, carbon capture and storage (CCS) has to be implemented to keep global warming within 2°C. After a long phase of experimentation on CCS technologies, efforts in Europe to implement a concrete strategy are growing, under the umbrella of the ECCSEL ESFRI infrastructure and the newly approved ERA-NET Cofund ACT. The Swiss plan is being developed by SCCER-SoE groups together with SFOE, BAFU and industry participation (on-going discussions with three possible industry partners). The plan aims to use the ERANET-ACT support to expand the work already carried out in SCCER-SoE Phase I and previous national projects (CARMA) to ensure that the required science and technologies are available, and to realize a first pilot project in Switzerland to demonstrate at the field scale that CO2 storage can safely be done without causing unacceptable seismicity, fluid-mineral reactions and environmental contamination. The timescale of ERA-NET Cofund ACT is very favorable, with expectation of funding by 2017 (Swiss quota of CHF 4 Mio for 4 years). We aim at initiating with SFOE a CO2 sequestration pilot by 2019.

Research partners: ETH Zurich, EPF Lausanne, University of Geneva