Location found for unique ultra-deep geothermal program, Netherlands

Location found for unique ultra-deep geothermal program, Netherlands Drilling rig on site on Bergschenhoek project site, Netherlands (source: Zublin)
Alexander Richter 17 Dec 2021

The Dutch Ultra-Deep Geothermal Program has identified a location for its planned research well exploring tapping geothermal at deeper levels in the Netherlands.

Last week, the parties participating in the Ultra-Deep Geothermal (UDG) program in the Netherlands announced that they had selected from among their number the most suitable location to consider a research well for UDG. The Tellus Renkum consortium will investigate which follow-up steps can be taken. to be able to realize a possible research drilling. Such a drilling would be unique in the Netherlands, because geothermal energy has never been drilled deeper than 4 kilometers. With temperatures above 120 degrees Celsius, lighter industrial processes can be foreseen. In Renkum it is being investigated whether it is possible in the future to make the energy supply of Smurfit Kappa Parenco, one of the largest paper mills in the Netherlands, largely natural gas-free with ultra-deep geothermal energy.

Program UDG

The UDG program arose in early 2020 from the Green Deal Ultra-Deep Geothermal Energy, which was signed in 2017 by EBN, TNO, the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Climate, Infrastructure and the Environment and seven consortia of companies. Together, these parties have investigated whether the development of ultra-deep geothermal energy in the Netherlands can take place safely and responsibly and, if so, what the best choice would be for a possible first location. By mutual exchange of knowledge and by carrying out various studiesmany new insights were gained. For example, more is now known about the location, distribution and depth of the Dinantien reservoir rock. The most relevant uncertainty now concerns the estimate of the expected power that a project could deliver. This is mainly due to the lack of subsurface data in combination with the large local variation in, in particular, the permeability of the Dinantien. An important step to gain more insight into this is to perform a first research drilling.

“As Parenco, we like to realize the dream of a fully sustainable and circular product. There are several ways that can lead to this, none of them are easy. That is why we are also investigating this possibility, despite the considerable challenges” Jeroen Broens, director of Smurfit Kappa Parenco.

The sequel

There is still a long way to go before ultra-deep geothermal energy can be extracted. Due to the great uncertainty in the estimated capacity, the chance that a profitable project can be realized – partly due to the high costs of drilling at the moment – ??is not yet sufficient. That is why it is especially important that additional data is collected to reduce the cost of a drilling and increase the success rate of a project. Additional data can be collected from, for example, international (UDG) projects, studies in the Dinantien closer to the surface and from conventional geothermal energy. In this way, the execution of a first UDG research well in the Netherlands, at Smurfit Kappa Parenco, can be brought closer.

Source: EBN