Improving understanding of geothermal resources

Why is this gap important?

Geological databases already exist for several parts of the world, but they could benefit from incorporating and aggregating the more complex data emerging from advanced remote sensing and monitoring of hydrothermal resources around the world. Combining these at the greatest granularity, extending them geographically, and reinterpreting, recompiling and standardising them would enable the creation of a publicly accessible, globally relevant database for use in assessing, accessing and exploiting geothermal resources.

Technology solutions

  • Industries and research institutes are now working towards an integrated approach for comprehensive characterisation of hot rock resources in a variety of geological settings. To better assess hot rock potential, R&D will need to focus on understanding how fractures open and propagate in different stress regimes and rock types. Similarly, a common approach to identify advanced hydrothermal resources will help to assess potential.
  • R&D is also required to enable exploration and assessment of hidden hydrothermal geothermal systems and hot rock resources. Rapid-reconnaissance geothermal tools will be essential to identify new prospects, especially those without surface features such as hot springs. Verification is needed on whether airborne-based hyperspectral, thermal infrared, magnetic and electromagnetic sensor tools can provide data inexpensively over large areas (TRL 10). Other tools might include ground-based verification, soil sampling and geophysical surveys (magnetotelluric, resistivity, gravity, seismic and/or heat flow measurements).
  • Exploration-only drilling technology is vital to enable EGS, because the in-situ stress field can only be measured in boreholes, but it needs to become much less costly to be practical

Colored bars represent the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of each technology. Learn more about TRLs