Could Texas’ dirty coal power plants be replaced by geothermal systems?

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: April 26, 2016

For Texas electricity customers, geothermal energy is pretty much an afterthought. But some scientists — and even some people in the oil and gas business — say that heat from deep underground may become a significant source of power.

SMU ‘Power Plays’ conference April 25-26

SMU NEWS

Originally Posted: April 22, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU’s renowned Geothermal Lab will host its eighth international energy conference April 25-26 on the Dallas campus, focused on using the oilfield as a base for alternative energy production through the capture of waste heat and fluids.

In addition to oil and gas field geothermal projects, experts will discuss coal plant conversion for geothermal production, the intersection of geothermal energy and desalination, and large-scale direct use of the energy source produced by the internal heat of the earth.

“Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields” begins with an opening reception and poster session from 5:30 – 8 pm Monday, April 25, followed by a daylong program of speakers and presentations Tuesday, April 26. Conference details are available here. Walk-up registration is available at the conference site, the Collins Center at 3150 Binkley Avenue, Dallas, 75205.

The technology that is the primary focus of the conference takes advantage of an existing resource frequently considered a nuisance – wastewater produced by oil and gas wells during extraction. As a well ages it will typically produce more water and less oil or gas over time, which raises the cost of production. Where the produced wastewater is hot enough, and the water flow rate is sufficient, specially designed turbines can draw geothermal energy from the wastewater.

That “bonus” geothermal energy can be used to either generate electricity to operate the oil field equipment and lower the cost of production, sell the electricity directly to the power grid or – more likely – to nearby industry users seeking a highly secure electrical source. READ MORE

Think GeoEnergy: Interview with Maria Richards at the Geothermal Lab at SMU in Texas

Think GeoEnergy

Originally Posted: March 3, 2016

Utilizing geothermal energy in oil & gas fields could expand the geothermal sector dramatically and is the key topic of the annual Power Plays conference organized by SMU in Texas. Here we talk with Maria Richards on SMU, the conference and her view on geothermal energy in oil and gas fields.

Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas is one of the few universities in the United States with a dedicated geothermal laboratory and/ or program. The school has played a particularly important role in looking at ways for a technology transfer from the oil & gas sector into geothermal.

This year the school will be holding its 8th international geothermal energy conference, “Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields”. It will take place April 25-26, 2016 at the SMU Campus in Dallas, Texas.

We have been covering some of the work done on geothermal work on oil & gas fields in the U.S., and therefore have been following a bit the work by the SMU Geothermal Lab. So it was great being able to do an interview with Maria Richards, the Coordinator for the Geothermal Lab, and President-elect of the Geothermal Resources Council (GRC). READ MORE

Geothermal energy, W.Va’s next big energy sector?

The Register Herald

Originally Posted: February 28, 2016

There’s thermal energy in them hills!

Well, under them hills.

West Virginia is sitting on the largest geothermal hot spot in the eastern United States, so scientist say.

Scientists believe the Mountain State sits on several hot patches of earth, some scorching hot as 200 degrees Celsius, which is nearly 400 degrees Fahrenheit, according to sciencemag.com.

The magazine reports the energy is only slightly more than 3 miles below ground. “If engineers are able to tap the heat, the state could become a producer of green energy for the region,” the magazine hypothesizes.

West Virginia’s resources are mostly EGS type (for electricity) and not the traditional hydrothermal plants which are built in the western part of the United States..

Data from Southern Methodist University estimates EGS geothermal resources in West Virginia would be about 1 to 6 gigawatts of EGS. A gigawatt is equal to 1,000 megawatts = 1 billion watts. The total capacity of U.S. electricity generating plants in 2012 was about 1,100 gigawatts, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Benjamin Matek, an industry analyst and research projects manager at the Geothermal Energy Association, said geothermal fields in California have generated energy for close to 50 years and some in Europe for more than a century.

However, the geothermal plants are more popular in Europe than in the United States.

Geothermal plants are “built in Europe but the Europeans have a friendly business environment for projects like this. They offer a really high FITs (a type of design) for geothermal power because of its environmental and economical values,” he said.

One European country investing heavily in geothermal is Iceland, an island nation of about 800,000 people, which started development of geothermal energy about 70 years ago, today is the largest user of geothermal energy in the world.

Thordur H. Hilmarsson, director of Invest in Iceland, said within the past decade the country’s use of geothermal energy has increased drastically.

Today in Iceland, about 80 percent of the energy production is used for production of aluminum and various other energy dependent industrial processes such as production of silicon metal. So only 20 percent of the electricity is used by the general public and smaller industries.

However, that 20 percent is put to good use. “Geothermal energy is also used for central heating of 90 percent of all houses in Iceland,” he wrote in an email response to questions submitted by The Register-Herald.

Hilmarsson said foreign countries have expressed interest in locate to Iceland because of the geothermal energy. He explained there are three benefits to the energy source:

• Competitive energy prices

• Longterm power contracts with fixed base price conditions

• Availability of green and sustainable energy sources allowing the industries to reduce their carbon footprint.

Iceland made economic development around the geothermal resources a priority.

“In Iceland we have the first geothermal resource park at the Reykjanes Peninsula (a small headland on the southwestern tip of the island) where the main aim is to utilize the energy streams for industrial purposes,” Hilmarsson wrote in his email reply.

Engineering companies and Icelandic scientists are leaders in know-how in both harnessing and designing around utilization of geothermal resources, he said. These companies are currently working internationally on geothermal projects.

Iceland’s data centers, fish farming, algae production and production of green methanol are just few examples industries benefiting from the multiple energy streams available from the geothermal sources, he said.

Time is one drawback to geothermal energy, Hilmarsson said. The long lead time from researching of a geothermal area to actually building a power plant based can take between seven to 10 years, he said.

The process includes test drilling to investigate the capacity of the area in mind as well as completion of Environmental Impact Assessment prior to all permitting.

Matek said geothermal’s biggest positive for West Virginia would be the health benefits and improved air quality. Geothermal power can replace fossil fuel facilities megawatt for megawatt, generating the same type of base load power, yet do not have emissions which reduces asthma and health problems for people who live around the plant, he said.

“In some places in Africa, Japan and Costa Rica plants are actually built inside national parks with no or little adverse impacts on the wildlife, park or air quality,” he said.

He said the cost would be about the same. Generally its about about $4,000 to $6,500/kilowatt.

“I would expect a plant in West Virginia would be on the upper end of that range.

Plants normally sign PPAs (Power Purchasing Agreements) between 17 cents and $1.10 cents/kWh in the west,” he said.

Maria Richards, a geothermal expert and geographer at SMU, said she was surprised to find West Virginia as a hot spot.

“Nobody expected West Virginia to show up as a hot spot,” she told Science magazine. READ MORE

SMU geothermal scientist Maria Richards nominated for a 2016 Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Award

Originally Posted: January 15, 2016

Congratulations to Maria Richards, SMU Geothermal Laboratory Coordinator in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences. She has been nominated for a 2016 Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Award in education.

The goal of the C3E Awards is to advance the work and increase the visibility of emerging women leaders in the clean energy sector. Winners will receive an $8,000 prize to support their future work or the work of other women in clean energy. Winners will also receive national recognition. For more information, please visit www.C3Eawards.org.

 

Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields – Call for Abstracts

The SMU Geothermal Lab is hosting our 8th international energy conference and workshop, Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields, April 25-26, 2016 on the SMU Campus in Dallas, Texas.

We are looking for speakers and poster presentations. Abstracts are due by Friday February 5, 2016.

Submit your abstract by email to geothermal@smu.edu.

Please include:

Author name(s)
Organization name(s)
Presentation title
Abstract, 1-2 pages
Prefer Oral Presentation or Poster Session?
Bio of presenter
We will let you know if your presentation has been selected, and whether you have been assigned a speaker slot or poster session.

Contact Maria Richards at mrichard@smu.edu or 214-768-1975 for more information or to discuss your topic.

Submit your abstract by email to geothermal@smu.edu. Abstracts are due by Friday February 5, 2016.  READ MORE

Success! Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields, the 2015 Conference Summary:

The SMU Geothermal Lab recently hosted its 7th international energy conference Power Plays:Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields. Along with discussion on generating geothermal energy from oil and gas fields, topics at this year’s event included desalination, flare gas and induced seismicity. A summary of the presentations is available at http://www.smu.edu/Dedman/Academics/Programs/GeothermalLab/Conference/PastPresentations.

Read a summery of the event here.

Read more on the event here.

SMU conference to promote technology, economics of geothermal production in oil and gas fields

Phys.org
Originally Posted: May 15, 2015

Southern Methodist University’s renowned Geothermal Laboratory will host its seventh international energy conference and workshop on the SMU campus May 19-20. The conference is designed to promote transition of oil and gas fields to electricity-producing geothermal systems by harnessing waste heat and fluids from both active and abandoned fields.

More than 200 professionals – ranging from members of the oil and gas service industry, reservoir engineers, to geothermal energy entrepreneurs, to lawyers – are expected to attend “Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields” Topics of discussion will include:

  • Power generation from flare gas
  • Power generation from waste-heat and geothermal fluids
  • Research updates on induced seismicity, as well as onshore and offshore thermal maturation
  • Play Fairway Analysis – a subsurface mapping technique used to identify prospective geothermal resources
  • Technology updates.

Researchers from SMU’s Huffington Department of Earth Sciences will present results from their Fall 2014 Eastern North American Margin Community Seismic Experiment (ENAM CSE) research. In addition, equipment such as one-well systems, desalination and other new technologies will be explored. Registration remains open and walk-up attendees will be accommodated.

SMU has been at the forefront of geothermal energy research for more than 45 years, and the Geothermal Laboratory’s mapping of North American geothermal resources is considered the baseline for U.S. geothermal energy exploration. Geothermal Laboratory Coordinator Maria Richards and Emeritus Professor David Blackwell have seen interest in geothermal energy wax and wane with the price of oil and natural gas.

But Richards believes current low oil prices will drive more interest in geothermal development, encouraging oil and gas producers to use geothermal production from existing oil and gas fields as they try to keep them cost-effective for petroleum production at 2015 prices.

The technology that will be examined at the conference is relatively straight-forward: Sedimentary basins drilled for oil and gas production leave behind reservoir pathways that can later be used for heat extraction. Fluids moving through those hot reservoir pathways capture heat, which at the surface can be turned into electricity, or used downhole to replace pumping needs. In addition, the existing surface equipment used in active oil and gas fields generates heat, which also can be tapped to produce electricity and mitigate the cost of production.

“Oil and gas drilling rig counts are down,” Richards said. “The industry has tightened its work force and honed its expertise. The opportunity to produce a new revenue stream during an economically challenging period, through the addition of relatively simple technology at the wellhead, may be the best chance we’ve had in years to gain operators’ attention.”

Featured speakers include Jim Wicklund, managing director for equity research at Credit Suisse, who will speak on “Volatile Economics in the Oil Field,” and Holly Thomas and Tim Reinhardt from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office. STW Water Process & Technology, a water reclamation and oilfield services company, will have desalination equipment on-site for attendees to understand size and scaling capacity of water purification for oil field operators.

More information:
www.smu.edu/Dedman/Academics/Programs/GeothermalLab/Conference

Geothermal energy conference May 18-20, 2015

PowerPlays-Logo-980x187

The SMU Geothermal Laboratory will host its seventh international energy conference and workshop on the main campus May 19-20, 2015. The conference is designed to promote transition of oil and gas fields to electricity-producing geothermal systems by harnessing waste heat and fluids from both active and abandoned fields.

More than 200 professionals – ranging from members of the oil and gas service industry, to reservoir engineers, to geothermal energy entrepreneurs, to lawyers – are expected to attend “Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields.”

Topics of discussion will include:

  • Power generation from flare gas
  • Power generation from waste-heat and geothermal fluids
  • Research updates on induced seismicity, as well as onshore and offshore thermal maturation
  • Play Fairway Analysis – a subsurface mapping technique used to identify prospective geothermal resources
  • Technology updates

Researchers from the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences will present results from their Fall 2014 Eastern North American Margin Community Seismic Experiment (ENAM CSE) research. In addition, equipment such as one-well systems, desalination and other new technologies will be explored. READ MORE

Using Geothermal Solutions to Desalinate Oil Field Water

RenewableEnergyWorld.com
Originally Posted: April 22, 2015

By: Cathy Chickering Pace, SMU Geothermal Lab

Cathy Chickering Pace Cathy Chickering Pace is a Project Specialist in the SMU Geothermal Laboratory in Dallas, Texas, where she primarily focuses on project management of the Lab's sponsored research from both government and private industry.
Cathy Chickering Pace
Cathy Chickering Pace is a Project Specialist in the SMU Geothermal Laboratory in Dallas, Texas, where she primarily focuses on project management of the Lab’s sponsored research from both government and private industry.

Clean water — it’s a precious resource in hot demand right now, for more than taking a shower or watering our crops. The United Nations projects the world’s population will grow by another billion people, to 8.4 Billion, by 2030. More people means more need for food, water, electricity, and other necessities. Beyond the obvious demands for water, our increasing appetite for electricity also requires water — and plenty of it. Most of the electricity generated in the U.S. uses water in some capacity.

When the Sierra Nevada snowpack is at 65 year low, there will be serious water shortages in California that can affect us all. Droughts can be powerful motivators for innovative water efficiency and conservation measures, and have led to the development of innovative technologies, such as desalination of brackish ground water, produced oil field water, or seawater. Certainly these technologies hold tremendous promise, particularly in places where high salinity waters outweigh the freshwater supply significantly — places like Texas, where brackish water is produced from oil and gas wells.

Texas also happens to be a large agricultural user of fresh water, especially in the southernmost part of the state, in the Rio Grande Valley where cotton, ‘Ruby Red Grapefruits’, ‘Texas 1015 onions’, grain sorghum, melons, sugar cane, and other crops are plentiful — but not without the help of irrigation systems. In fact, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), irrigation accounts for the largest use of fresh water throughout the U.S. Because the Valley is experiencing rapid population growth, the demands for water will only increase. The International Boundary & Water Commission projects the area’s municipal water needs to increase by a whopping 100 percent in the next 50 years and industrial use to increase by 40 percent. The current source for nearly all of the Valley’s water? The Rio Grande River: subject to extreme weather fluctuations, beginning to experience higher salinity conditions, and an international boundary. READ MORE