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Analytical solutions to evaluate the geothermal energy generation potential from sedimentary-basin reservoirs

Journal Title Geothermics
Published Date November 02, 2023
Research Type
Authors Jeff Bielicki


Sedimentary basins are attractive for geothermal development due to their ubiquitous presence, high permeability, and extensive lateral extent. Geothermal energy from sedimentary basins has mostly been used for direct heating purposes due to their relatively low temperatures, compared to conventional hydrothermal systems. However, there is an increasing interest in using sedimentary geothermal energy for electric power generation due to the advances in conversion technologies using binary cycles that allow electricity generation from reservoir temperatures as low as 80 °C. This work develops and implements analytical solutions for calculating reservoir impedance, reservoir heat depletion, and wellbore heat loss in sedimentary reservoirs that are laterally extensive, homogeneous, horizontally isotropic and have uniform thickness. Reservoir impedance and wellbore heat loss solutions are combined with a power cycle model to estimate the electricity generation potential. Results from the analytical solutions are in good agreement with numerically computed reservoir models. Our results suggest that wellbore heat loss can be neglected in many cases of electricity generation calculations, depending on the reservoir transmissivity. The reservoir heat depletion solution shows how reservoir temperature and useful lifetime behave as a function of flow rate, initial heat within the reservoir, and heat conduction from the surroundings to the reservoir. Overall, our results suggest that in an exploratory sedimentary geothermal field, these analytical solutions can provide reliable first order estimations without incurring intensive computational costs.