LPRC @ Webinar – Recent installations, implications for the future of geothermal in Turkey

On Friday 29, Gauthier Quinonez (LPRC) attended the latest IGN online webinar on geothermal energy organized by Enerchange (PR and Event Agency focusing on renewable energy) and Think GeoEnergy (leading newspaper on geothermal). The event focused on the particular case of Turkish geothermal, its characteristics and future.

Top that occasion, the board invited Gad Shoshan (chairman at the board at the Israel-Turkey business council and chamber of commerce and managing director at Ormat Inc.) to discuss the current state of play. Ormat is a global renewable energy provider based in Reno (Nevada). The company has the particularity to be verse in multiple renewable energy sources (geothermal and recovered energy) as well as energy storage. In addition, with regards to geothermal, they managed to vertically integrate all phases of geothermal (Development, exploration, drilling, engineering, manufacturing, construction, operation and stakeholder management).

First of all, even though Turkey has become famous of over the past decade for its rapid and sustained development of geothermal, the country is still highly reliant on fossil fuels for domestic electricity production (Fig. 1). However, 3 caveats shall be made on this current status. First, all but one active Turkish power plants opened after 2006, highlighting the impressive capacity to adapt to new resources. Second, Turkish geothermal potential hasn’t been reached yet, indicating a possible growing share of geothermal electricity in the Turkish market for the future. Third, most fossil fuel consumption is linked to import from the East, highlighting a threat in local energy security and Turkish authorities made no secret about the need for a change in this matter.

Figure 1: Turkey’s electricity generation per resource

As per January 2021, geothermal energy’s output in Turkey is 1.6 GW produced by 77 power plants (with a mix of Organic Rankine Cycle[1] and flash). Although 77 power plants may seem like a high number for the country it does not meet the high demand of 84 million Turkish and does not cover the huge local geothermal potential. Figure 2 shows current knowledge of Turkish geothermal potential (red areas) and locations of operational plants (ref triangles). Based on the map, it can be concluded that Central and Eastern Anatolia are underexploited vis-à-vis their potential. In addition, there is still a lack of exploration and research to determine the true potential of the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions.

Figure 2: Turkish geothermal potential

All and all, the Turkish geothermal case study proves that the technology can be developed quickly and efficiently (76 power plants in under 15 years) despite a somewhat shaken economy (current devaluation of YLT and high unemployment). Lessons can be learned globally from the Turkish case.

[1] Organic Rankine Cycle is a technology that convert low-temperature heat sources into a mechanical energy, and it can be used to produce electrical energy in a closed system.

Register for the ROBOMINERS project webinar!

On 18 February 2021 the ROBOMINERS project is organising a webinar on “Small and very-small scale robotic mining: deposit types and opportunities for Europe”.

The aim of this virtual event is to:

  • Provide an overview of abandoned mines in Europe and their potential
  • Discuss the challenges of reopening an old mine
  • Outline the different steps from the discovery of a deposit until the opening of a mine
  • Present expected contributions of the ROBOMINERS technology to resume operations in abandoned mines where the application of conventional technologies is not relevant

The webinar is scheduled for 14:00-16:15 CET and speakers will be announced in the coming days.

To sign up for this free webinar, please register here: https://bit.ly/3cn2i9d

Register and join the discussion on the future mining opportunities in Europe!

Recap of the “Focus on Geothermal – Energy for the Weekend” Webinar

How can deep geothermal be green whilst releasing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere?

The figure below seems to indicate that deep geothermal energy is not as green as it could be assumed, in some instances reaching levels of emissions comparable to fossil fuels energy sources (gas, coal and oil). However, this graph is a simplification of what is really at stakes. First of all, geothermal emissions here are presented as life-long emission meaning resulting from exploration, drilling, building the plant, manufacturing of all the parts, operation and decommission. All but stages but operation are CO2 emissions that currently cannot be avoided because of the reliance on fossil-fuel for manufacturing any part and the value chain in general.

With regards to CO2 emissions during geothermal operation one might wonder why an energy source that does not burn fossil fuel nor carbon content still produces GHG emissions. And this is due to the CO2 content into the water reservoir from which heat is extracted. Think about a bottle of sparkling water when the lid is on, there is no bubble rising to the surface of the water and therefore no gas can expand, in short: CO2 is dissolute in the water, the system is sealed. Once you open the bottle, you witness this characteristic “pop” (due to expanding gases) followed by a rush of CO2 bubbles to the surface that then make their way to the atmosphere: the system is open.

Deep geothermal reservoirs, which are polluting, function in the very same manner as a bottle of sparkling water (albeit at much higher pressure). Drilling to a geothermal reservoir in order to harvest its heat means opening a closed system. The presence of CO2 in deep geothermal reservoirs is a naturally occurring phenomenon linked to Earth magmatic events and decay of any living organism.

Luckily, geothermal CO2 emissions during operation can be mitigated, as Hörmann Grupp presented, there are ways to make a geothermal operation 100% green. Their experiments were based on a pre-existing body of literature on carbon capture. During their tests, they further confirmed that it is possible to capture CO2 released from the brine and reinject it in the geothermal reservoir so that it never pollutes the atmosphere. Furthermore, thanks to the high pressure put on the CO2, it dissolves into the water thus not perturbing the heat exchange critical for any geothermal plant.

Experiments and new technologies are improving geothermal each day making the energy greener and more reliable than ever. It is really a breakthrough that will untroubledly help trigger a massive growth of geothermal in the energy market worldwide.

LPRC during 2020 – a summary

The past year was an atypical one, there is no denying it. Despite the many problems posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, LPRC still managed to keep up with its work plans. All team activities – where the EU-funded projects are of most importance – ran successfully. Although not without a certain degree of adaptation. A quick summary of our activities on each of our EU projects during 2020 is given below:

INTERMIN: LPRC participated in the project’s main discussions and contributed with dissemination activities. The team’s biggest workshare was done in 2019 regarding WP2 – Raw Materials Sector Skills, Gaps and Needs.

MACARONIGHT: In 2020, LPRC coordinated the second installment of  the MACARONIGHT project after its success in 2o19. Coordination included preparation and monitoring of activities in different islands as well as analysis of the outcomes.

PRO-ACT: For this space project, LPRC contributed with geological information for the preparation of the lunar analogues where the robotic elements shall be tested during 2021. LPRC also presented the project during the EGU 2020 event.

ROBOMINERS: LPRC leads WP8 – Active clustering and roadmapping – and during 2020 the team contributed to the exchange of information with several projects and initiatives, kickstarted Focus Groups discussions and launched the Horizon Scanning activities. LPRC also contributed with the dissemination of the project at several opportunities.

AGEO: Within AGEO, the team leads communication and dissemination efforts. In 2020, besides the outreach efforts, LPRC also contributed to strengthening the impact of the project by leveraging communication with other EU projects and initiatives.

CROWDTHERMAL: During 2020, LPRC’s role was two-fold. First, the team largely contributed to the communication efforts with the management of social media channels and preparation of material such as factsheets. Second, LPRC kickstarted activities for WP4 – Integrated Development Schemes, which it leads.

ENGIE: LPRC started discussions and prepared ENGIE-related activities for the Researchers Night in 2020. For this task, LPRC hosted a high number of (online) workshops. The team also contributed with dissemination of the project, as seen with its participation on the EGU 2020 event.

UNEXUP: Continuing LPRC’s tasks from UNEXMIN, in UNEXUP the team also leads dissemination efforts. Therefore, LPRC was responsible for the development of all outreach material – both online and physical. Another important task, was the team’s contribution to the market analysis and go-to-market strategy set for the project’s implementation.

MOBI-US: Within this education-based project LPRC had two main tasks. It led outreach efforts during the whole year with the development and implementation of dissemination actions. The other relevant task was the contribution to the major guidelines for the implementation of the MOBI-US network. Here, LPRC contributed with an extensive analysis on the current and future gaps of the raw materials sector.

Besides contributing to EU-projects LPRC was also active in other areas including policy analysis, science communication and use of foresight methodologies.

We hope to have an even better 2021 with more projects and more work!

LPRC participates at “Geo-Energy Operations: Opportunities and Challenges” webinar

On the 16 December, The Welding Institute hosted its webinar titled “Geo-Energy Operations: Opportunities and Challenges Confirmation”. TWI is a global leader in technology engineering providing research and consultancy to its members.

The session was focused on one research question: “Why is geothermal still the hidden champion of energy?”. Geothermal has a very high potential on Earth. As a matter of fact, 99.6% of the planet is above 500 degrees Celsius, which begs the questions, why relying so much on oil and gas?

In addition, geothermal is a baseload power. Baseload power refers to the minimum amount of electric power needed to be supplied to the electrical grid at any given time. Day to day trends of power usage need to be met by power plants, however it is not optimal for power plants to produce the maximum needed power at all times. Earth’s warmth is not dependent on the time of the day, season or weather, it stays warm and will continue to stay warm for billions of years.

On top of potential and availability, recent developments in technology and general economies of scale have pushed geothermal competitiveness to the forefront of the energy race. Figure 1 showcases the unsubsidized cost of alternative and conventional energy sources. Two conclusions can be drawn from this graph; first, being unsubsidized levelized costs; second, although more competitive, biomass and wind have their drawbacks.

Conventional and alternative energy costs.

The ambitious vision developed for geothermal is challenged by a slow growth and implementation of geothermal worldwide. The International Geothermal Association  highlights that geothermal Growth rate of geothermal is only 3%, which is not enough to meet UNDP (United Nation Program for Development) Objective 7 – focusing on clean and affordable energy for all. To reach this global objective, the annual growth rate of geothermal (electricity, heating and cooling) needs to be 9 to 12%. Market studies suggest that the main hurdles to overcome include initial investment and public perception. Realistically, these two notions boil down to one simple concept: trust.

Investment relates to a trust into geothermal to yield positive return on investment while maximising the cost management of operations. Academic studies suggest that trust in geothermal can be raised via sharing best practices and technical development leading to cost reduction. This combination of actions enabled a noticeable growth in solar and wind power generation over the past decade.

Finally, trust is also capital when discussing public perception of geothermal energy. Best practices across the globe demonstrate that successful geothermal projects are synonymous with open and trustworthy communication with local communities. In the words of Marit Brommer, Executive Director at IGA: “both geothermal experts and non-experts shall discuss with the public about geothermal. The public shall always be engaged openly and with non-technical jargon to ensure clear communication and more importantly: dialogue. These open discussions will not only benefit the geothermal world but society as a whole.”.

Will 2021 bring new opportunities for geothermal energy?

Shallow Geothermal Days 2020: Day 3: Minutes

On the 11th December 2020 took place the third and final day of the Shallow Geothermal Days 2020. On  opportunity the focus shifted from the perks of shallow geothermal and the European potential to the incorporation of geothermal energy in the future of European Carbon neutrality.

It is no secret that the European Union is massively investing in renewable energy sources and energy storage to decarbonize its economy. The session once again proved the necessity of geothermal energy in the upcoming carbon neutral market. Not only geothermal has a huge green and economically viable potential but it also shows potential in disruptive technologies such as combined renewables sources and thermal storage. Combined renewables sources consist of two or more renewable energy sources used together to provide increased system efficiency as well as greater balance in energy supply. For example, geothermal could provide baseload energy whilst alternating energy sources could provide additional power at pick demand time.

Main themes and subtopics of the overall CHPM concept: exploration, development, operation, market. CHPM 2030 was one of the innovative projects funded under the Horizon 2020 programme where LPRC participated.

It is now important for the European Commission and its institutions to act on climate and to act quickly. To that end, the Innovation Fund has been launched to fund a number of projects to help with changing the energy panaroma. A total of 58 out of 322 proposals submitted (18%) on the 2nd December for Large-Scale projects under the Innovation Fund were geothermal energy-related (mostly heating and cooling and thermal storage). Whilst this high number of geothermal projects does not reflect the final outcome of the bid, it however shows a growing interest in the technology on the European scene.

Will Europe be able to meet its energy-related challenges for the upcoming years?

Shallow Geothermal Days 2020: Day 1: Minutes

On Friday, 4th December 2020, the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC) held the first day of the Shallow Geothermal Energy Days 2020. LPRC participatedin the event in light of the CROWDTHERMAL project.

The event focused solely on geothermal at shallow depth, specifically heat pumps. A geothermal heat pump (GHP) or ground source heat pump (GSHP) is a central heating and/or cooling system that transfers heat to or from the ground. The whole event highlighted the role of shallow geothermal energy within the scope of the climate transition and the EU Carbon neutrality. EGEC acknowledged that geothermal energy is not the silver bullet of the climate transition, but it has an important role to play in the next 4 decades given its inherent capabilities and the EU’s potential for low enthalpy geothermal.

Geothermal has a bright future in Europe for 2 main reasons. First, the technology is green and highly competitive when it comes to space (see the figure). Second, geothermal can follow the fluctuating demand of energy within its grid thus disabling reliance on supplemental electricity further increasing the energy efficiency of buildings whilst decreasing their operating costs. This has the spillover effect to fight energy poverty. Energy poverty is a particularly urgent matter at a time where most people have to remain at home for longer hours per day due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. It is important because a Just Energy Transition is an inclusive one.

LPRC participation at the MOBI-US Industry Workshop!

The Industry Workshop concludes MOBI-US’ events in 2020. The workshop gathered partners of the consortium, academic stakeholders, and industry players of the ESEE region (East & South-East Europe), to talk about what has been achieved within MOBI-US during the first project year. LPRC was the partner responsible for the elaboration of part of the Guidelines and for the dissemination and communication of project’s activities.

The main objective of the Industry Workshop was to invite members of the raw materials industry to learn about MOBI-US’ overall progress and the structured mobilities that had been developed by the partner institutions. Afterwards, these industrial representatives could provide their impressions and feedback, which will help MOBI-US to achieve its main goal: adding value to the existing MSc programs and to produce a well prepared workforce for the raw materials sector in the region.

The event was divided in two sessions. The morning session was dedicated to the consortium partners, in which the leaders of the MSc programs presented the mobility pathways that have been arranged with the other universities. This part of the meeting was a preparation for the following session, which was dedicated to presenting the project’s achievements to the representatives of the raw materials industry.

The MOBI-IS Industry Workshop attendees.

The afternoon session was dedicated to presenting the project’s achievements to the representatives of the raw materials industry of the ESEE region. The session started with welcome words and an introduction of MOBI-US by the Project Coordinator Ferenc Mádai – University of Miskolc. After that, the guideline materials were presented by the Mentoring partners of the project. In this opportunity, Luís Lopes – representing LPRC – introduced the document on “Skills, competence gaps and needs of the raw materials sector”, which is a result of the work done in the INTERMIN project. This document is currently being applied in MOBI-US as well, to support the effective development and implementation of the structured mobility network.

Luís Lopes presented the “Skills, competence gaps and needs of the raw materials sector” during the Industry Workshop.

The following sections consisted of a summarized presentation of the mobility programs that were drafted, as well as an open talk with the industry members to discuss what was presented and to collect their suggestions and input. The discussion covered relevant topics that will help MOBI-US to achieve its goals and expected impacts towards the raw materials education in the ESEE region.

The event counted with 35 participants in total.

LPRC presenting UNEXUP to Instituto Superior Técnico – TÉCNICO LISBOA

Last week, on 25 November 2020, the UNEXUP and UNEXMIN projects were presented in an online lecture for the Instituto Superior Técnico – TÉCNICO LISBOA. Luís Lopes and Márcio Tameirão introduced these ambitious projects to an audience of students of the Mine and Geological Engineering degree, who could learn more about the innovative robot-based technology that was developed in UNEXMIN, and under further development within UNEXUP.

The presentation was made by Portuguese speakers of the LPRC team. Luís Lopes presented the UNEXMIN project (2016-2019), predecessor of UNEXUP, and Márcio Tameirão presented the ongoing UNEXUP project (2020-2022). In this opportunity, students and professors of TÉCNICO LISBOA had the unique chance to understand the background of the projects, as well as the advancements in the robotic technology, field trials, and main achievements. The new objectives and scope of UNEXUP were also presented, as well as the envisaged developments in the UX robots. Pictures of the robot and the test sites, as well as short videos of the pilot tests were also shown in this part of the presentation.

LPRC team members Luís Lopes and Márcio Tameirão presented the UNEXMIN and UNEXUP projects to young geoscientists of IST.

The whole presentation ended with the UNEXMIN documentary movie, which can be watched on the UNEXUP YouTube Channel.

The presentation had 12 attendees, who, together with the professors, asked questions about the robotic technology and its new instruments, as well as the future applications of it and how the exploration service will be commercialized to the target markets.

LPRC would like to thank the opportunity to present these projects to a younger audience that might change the raw materials world of tomorrow.

Today is “MacaroNight” day!

On this 27 November 2020, all around Europe the European Researchers’ Night is celebrated. It is a series of public events that bring researchers and their activities to the public. It is the perfect place, once a year, to showcase the many research activities developed for the sake of science and their impact on our everyday lives. These events also aim to raise awareness and interest in research careers.

Macaronesia area, where the MacaroNight events take place.

The MacaroNight project, led by LPRC, is a Macaronesian focused project that exists to demonstrate the Macaronesian research on this day. Following its implementation during the European Researchers’ Night in 2019, MacaroNight will also contribute to this important event this year.

Today, the MacaroNight team will support the demonstration of research activities and knowledge sharing of the Macaronesia with the European public!

Learn more on https://macaronight.eu/en_gb/ and on the project’s social channels Facebook , Twitter and Instagram.