The potential for geothermal heating for residential areas in Hamburg, Germany

The potential for geothermal heating for residential areas in Hamburg, Germany City view of Hamburg at the harbour, Germany (source: flickr/ 146128593@N04, public domain)
Alexander Richter 21 Jan 2021

As part of efforts to develop a geothermal heating project, the city of Hamburg will also use the project to explore the potential for wider geothermal energy utilisation through a partnership with a university, a research institute and private partner.

A deep geothermal energy plant is to be developed in the harbour of the city of Hamburg in Germany as part of the Real-world laboratory “Integrated Heat Transition Wilhelmsburg” “IW3” to supply Wilhelmsburg’s first homes with geothermal energy from 2023. We previously reported on the project.

At the same time, the project consortium behind the green energy supplier HAMBURG ENERGIE is pursuing the overall objective to set the foundations for the future development of geothermal energy in northern Germany. Close cooperation with the joint project mesoTherm, which is also state funded, is planned for this purpose.

Wilhelmsburg as a pilot site for northern German geothermal energy

The research initiative within the IW3 project will investigate several geological horizons as to their suitability for generating or storing geothermal energy as part of the first of two geothermal drilling projects. The Wilhelmsburg project may therefore become a pilot for future geothermal sites in northern Germany.

Developing new exploration methods and reducing the risk of prospecting for hydrothermal reservoirs is a key research objective with regard to future potential projects in northern Germany. Existing geological data from deep beneath the earth’s surface is being reinterpreted to this end, particularly with respect to so-called medium-depth geothermal energy, hence the name mesoTherm. Medium-depth geothermal energy involves adding a high-performance heat pump to the energy usage of medium-depth reservoirs. The results are available to the public in the geothermal information system GeotIS.

Supporting research when drilling

mesoTherm is planning a detailed supporting scientific programme as part of a dedicated work package within the IW3 project. Geophysical drilling measurements will be taken to characterise the features of petrophysical formations. Core samples will be extracted from promising rock formations and investigated geoscientifically. Relationships between geology of the reservoir and the productivity of drilling are captured by means of a comprehensive hydraulic test. It is therefore possible to make statements about profitability.

The purpose of the drilling data is also to verify new seismic exploration methods employing artificial intelligence, which will be carried out by Göttingen University. It is intended to detect fossil river beds up to a depth of 2,000 metres. Primarily sandstones, which may provide the ideal reservoirs for geothermal use, are preferably stored in the riverbeds of river systems. Drilling forecasts, which will be specially developed for this type of reservoir, will clarify whether these reservoirs are also a good prospect for success, i.e. have adequate quantities of thermal water. In addition, geological data will be reevaluated and offset against one another across all scales. The direct reservoir data and the supporting scientific programme for the first deep drilling in Hamburg Wilhelmsburg should validate the exploration results and the prospect of a successful find.

About the project

IW3 is a “real-world laboratory for energy transition”, which receives some EUR 22.5 million in funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Technology (BMWi). The real-world laboratories are part of the 7th energy research programme with which the Federal Government supports research and development in the field of pioneering energy technologies. Their aim is to test innovative technologies and how they interact with one another, and quite specifically, on an industrial scale and under real-life conditions.

The joint project mesoTherm is being undertaken under the leadership of the Geoscience Centre at the Georg August University in Göttingen, in collaboration with Geothermie Neubrandenburg GmbH (GTN) and the Leibnitz Institute for Applied Geophysics (LIAG), as an associated partner.

Source: Renewable Energy Hamburg