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Advanced drilling and well completion techniques for cost reduction in geothermal energy


Proposals will address novel non-mechanical drilling technologies required for applications on all types of geological formations and with the ability to reach cost-effectively greater depths and higher temperatures (i.e. beyond 5 km and 250°C) or develop new mechanical-drilling operation technologies making use of digitisation, automation, machine learning, and innovative instrumentation.

Risk assessment and lifetime analysis of new technologies are expected to be part of the work. Innovative systems to avoid and/or reduce discharge of geothermal fluids into the environment should be considered, as well as horizontal - multilateral wells clusters in various geological formations. For this reason, appropriate technology transfer from the oil and gas sector on horizontal well drilling is encouraged, although it is not compulsory.

Proposals are expected to bring technologies from TRL 3-4 to TRL 4-5 (please see part G of the General Annexes).

Finally, proposals will have to clearly address relevant social acceptance and related socioeconomic issues.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 to 4 million would allow this challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Please note that this topic is part of the lump sum funding pilot scheme. Funding for grants awarded under this topic will take the form of lump sums as defined in the Commission Decision C(2017)7151 of 27 October 2017[[http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/other/legal/lump_sum/lumpsumdecision_en.pdf]]. Details of the lump sum funding pilot scheme are published on the Funding & tender opportunities website[[https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/portal/screen/home]] together with the specific Model Grant Agreement for Lump Sums[[http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/mga/lumpsum/h2020-mga-lumpsum-pilot-multi_en.pdf

]] applicable"".

To achieve or maintain global leadership in geothermal energy technology cost reductions are crucial for existing and new technologies. In particular, well construction represents a considerable component of geothermal power plants’ overall investment. Consequently, lowering well cost (in terms of €/MWh) and reducing drill time or non-productive time would greatly facilitate their development. Advanced drilling technologies, currently not used in geothermal well construction, should therefore be developed and optimized.

This specific challenge is in line with the deep geothermal cost reduction targets stated in the SET-Plan Deep Geothermal Energy Implementation Plan[[https://setis.ec.europa.eu/system/files/setplan_geoth_ip.pdf]].

The proposed solution will contribute to meet key targets for drilling of the Deep Geothermal Implementation Plan of the SET-Plan[[https://setis.ec.europa.eu/system/files/setplan_geoth_ip.pdf]]: reducing the unit cost of drilling (€/MWh) by 30% by 2030 and reducing drill time or non-productive time by 20% by 2025 and a total cost reduction on well completion of 20%.