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IMAGE Report Summary

Project ID: 608553
Funded under: FP7-ENERGY
Country: Netherlands

Periodic Report Summary 3 - IMAGE (Integrated Methods for Advanced Geothermal Exploration)

Project Context and Objectives:
In November 2013, the four year project IMAGE (Integrated Methods for Advanced Geothermal Exploration) has been launched, harnessing research power of key research institutes in Europe and industrial players to develop novel exploration techniques for geothermal power.

The rationale behind the IMAGE project is the application of cutting edge research based on a solid understanding of the subsurface processes and properties to significantly enhance the potential of geothermal energy in the energy mix. The uncertainty about the resource at depth, however, has been defined as one of the main bottlenecks for a more widespread use of geothermal energy. For the various countries without magmatic resources, geothermal power production from basement and sedimentary contexts is a valuable local source of energy, produced near the consumers who may also be interested in the co-produced heat. In addition, resources with a lower temperature can now be valorised with a better energy efficiency than before, thanks to the improvement of binary cycles.
Main targets for an extended resource base are:
• Fracture dominated fluid pathways with no surface manifestations.
• Hot systems with insufficient natural permeability suitable for the development of reliable Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).
• Very high temperature (400°C) “supercritical” geothermal systems marked by much higher subsurface pressure, which can result in a significant increase of geothermal development in magmatic areas. No supercritical system has been successfully explored until today.

The barriers in the utilization of these resources are primarily connected to the financial risk of drilling a non-exploitable well. The risk for such a failure is related to pre-drill uncertainty.
The objective is to develop new methods to scrutinize and appraise geothermal systems in such a way that exploration wells can be sited with greater accuracy than before, thereby maximizing the success rate and reducing the cost of drilling associated with geothermal projects. In addition, such precision wells would reduce any potential environmental impact.

The IMAGE project will develop a reliable science based exploration and assessment method to “IMAGE” geothermal reservoirs using an interdisciplinary approach based on three general pillars:
1. Understanding the processes and properties that control the spatial distribution of critical exploration parameters at European to local scales. The focus will be on the prediction of temperatures, in-situ stresses, fracture permeability and hazards, which can be deduced from field analogues, public datasets, predictive models and remote constraints. It provides rock property catalogues for 2 and 3.
2. Radically improving well established exploration techniques for imaging, detection and testing of novel geological, geophysical and geochemical methods to provide reliable information on critical subsurface exploration parameters. Methods include: a. Geophysical techniques such as ambient seismic noise correlation and magnetotellurics with improved noise filtering, b. Fibre-optic down-hole logging tools to assess subsurface structure, temperature and physical rock properties, c. The development of new tracers and geothermometers for very high temperatures and supercritical conditions.
3. Demonstration of the added value of an integrated and multidisciplinary approach for site characterization and well-siting, based on conceptual advances, improved models/parameters and exploration techniques developed in 1 and 2. Further, it provides recommendations for a standardized European protocol for resource assessment and supporting models.

New research methods will be tested in well-known geothermal systems, both in continental sedimentary systems in Europe and in high-temperature systems related to volcanism where one might expect supercritical fluids, as in magmatic areas, such as in Iceland and Italy.

Project Results:
IMAGE includes a subproject (SP1) dedicated to overall project co-ordination, operational management, including legal, financial and administrative issues (WP1), and dissemination (WP2). and two R&D subprojects (SP2 for magmatic and SP3 for basement & sedimentary) and 6 subordinated work packages, facilitating sharing of knowledge and to some extent researcher mobility.
The subordinated work packages are organised in a matrix structure, with on the horizontal axis the SP2 and SP3 and on the vertical axis three components following the logic of the tri-partitioning of the objectives:
• Processes and parameters (WP3 – magmatic /WP6 – basement-sedimentary)
• Exploration techniques (WP4– magmatic /WP7– basement-sedimentary)
• Field integration (WP5– magmatic /WP8– basement-sedimentary)

Every six months, a number of project meetings have been held in the same location (in Europe) and at the same time (directly after each other). The first meetings were the Kick-Off meetings for the EB, GA and Technical Meetings, organised in Utrecht (Netherlands). The purpose of these Kick-Off meetings has been to install the several Project Bodies and to agree on the Project Plan and approach. Next meetings have been held in Orleans (France), Luzern (Switzerland), Potsdam (Germany), Pisa (Italy), Utrecht (Netherlands) and Oslo (Norway). A plenary session at these meetings disseminates the progress of the Project amongst the consortium, and ensures sufficient communication between the WPs. Furthermore, IMAGE has delivered a website and newsletters for outreach.

Within the reporting period activities have been in processes and parameters (WP3/WP6) and exploration techniques (WP4/WP7), largely in accordance with the description of work. Main results achieved so far are listed below.

Understanding processes and parameters (WP3 magmatic / WP6 - basement sedimentary):
WP3: analogue magmatic sites have been studied in Iceland and Italy, over 100m of cores, over 75 samples have been collected to measure physical properties for exploration techniques of supercritical systems, over 700 structural data have been collected in Iceland. Extensive field work has been performed in Elba island in Italy. First results for both areas indicate a strong structural control on magma emplacement and delineation of geothermal prospectivity. Autoclave experiments has shed light on relevant rock/fluid interactions at geological timescales affecting prospectivity for supercritical systems. The measurement of geo-mechanical, electrical and hydraulic properties on the samples for exploration techniques is delayed to year 2
WP6: IMAGE developed an outline of reference physics-based models, and properties, boundary conditions at EU scale for temperature, stress and seismogenic characterization, in conjunction with required (supplementations in) data constraints and properties to improve the robustness of explorative models, and a set of catalogues to populate models with correct parameters. To this end, a rock property database has been developed. Regional (geological) models have been made of the Molasse Basin, Rhine Graben and Netherlands areas.

Exploration techniques (WP4 magmatic / WP7 – basement sedimentary):
WP4 : An extensive passive seismic network has been laid out in and surrounding the Reykjanes area, including Ocean Bottom Seismometers and is operational from April 2014. A VSP survey has been performed and is ready to be processed.
The apparatus for measuring temperatures larger than 380°C using synthetic fluid inclusion was completed and new data has been acquired in Iceland.
Deep electrical resistivity distribution was measured in Larderello by a new MT survey and a novel DC electric methodology named Surface-boreHole Deep Electrical Resistivity Tomography (SHDERT)
WP7: Active seismic processing techniques for geothermal exploration and scope for adaption has been reported. A passive seismic acquisition has been performed in basement sedimentary environments. A CSEM test has been performed in Litoměřice test site.

Field Integration (WP5 magmatic / WP8 – basement sedimentary):
WP5: Analogue models demonstrate that-dipping annular reverse faults typically occur near the edge of the magma intrusions and are most likely pathways for mineral-bearing hydrothermal fluids sourced from shallow magma intrusions.
WP8: Local models have been developed for the Rhine Graben, and the Neherlands.

The IMAGE project has so far resulted in 135 publications, from which 18 peer reviewed manuscripts.

Potential Impact:
The expected final achievements of IMAGE are:

Definition of Processes and Parameters:
Main results for more robust predictive models of the critical exploration parameters from European to local scales are:
1) The identification of the key situations where favourable reservoir parameters (temperature, permeability, resource extent) can be expected, which includes the relationships between geological structures and geothermal resources, defining the exploration methods to be applied.
2) The better understanding of the processes that generate permeability in both magmatic and basement/sedimentary environments
3) The building of large-scale models, from an EU to a regional scale, to identify the areas of interest and constrain the local models. This progress will decisively contribute to an expansion of the known geothermal resource base in Europe.
4) The determination of fundamental properties of supercritical geothermal reservoirs and the respective technologies to measure and define them present a major step forward in making this so far untapped resource available.

Novel Exploration Techniques:
Advanced exploration techniques developed and tested in IMAGE (highlights listed below) present a major step forward in the goal to image geothermal systems with a higher degree of accuracy and resolution thus making geothermal targets for industrial exploitation more accessible:
5) By applying specially adapted active seismic methods to volcanic environment, where they have not been used successfully yet, in combination with ambient noise correlation and VSP measurements, the potential for expansion of the “conventional” volcanic resource base will be multiplied.
6) By integrating fibre-optic cables for the determination of reservoir parameters including seismic monitoring with Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), which presents a technology specifically adapted to geothermal development. DAS has never been used in geothermal exploration and could easily become a standard tool in geothermal reservoir assessment, with its potential confirmed by IMAGE.
7) By demonstrating that electromagnetic methods, so far used as a standard tool to verify the presence of fluids at depth but plagued by limited resolution and a strong sensitivity to industrial noise, prove much more useful with improved noise filtering, when used as a downhole tool, as proposed by IMAGE.
8) By applying new geothermometers and tracers, to assess reservoir temperature and pressure conditions, the chemical signature of fluids at depth, and hydrothermal signatures of fluid path ways
9) By applying novel techniques to determine the stress field, assisting in detecting stress variations with depth and in space, allowing to limit technical risks related to well bore stability and induced seismicity.
Each of these techniques will contribute to a breakthrough in the subsurface imaging of geothermal reservoirs and the processes controlling reservoir properties.

Field Integration:
The construction of site models with high enough accuracy to identify reservoirs of interest is the ultimate goal of all exploration activities. The Field integration results of IMAGE consist of:
10) A best practice for a 3D oriented workflow to represent and visualize the integrated results of exploration techniques and improved modelling of known physical processes. This framework is a requisite to build a reliable site-characterization
11) Identification and demonstration of the most relevant integrated approaches in combining novel exploration techniques and predictive multi-disciplinary models for a more robust assessment of critical exploration parameters
12) Predictive tools which enhance well-siting and optimize well-designs through a prognosis for performance of deep wells
13) Unlocking of the extended resource base through a standardized European protocol for geothermal exploration.

List of Websites:

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