Baseload, Energy Efficiency, Geothermal, Opinion & Commentary

Energy Cast Podcast: Maximizing geothermal with hydrocarbon

UND Geothermal
UND's oilfield geothermal system became the world's first commercially demonstrated site in 2016.

Energy Cast is a podcast featuring some of the top experts across all links in the energy industry chain, including renewables, generation and more! Jay Dauenhauer created the show and has been hosting Energy Cast for several years.

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The first time I ever heard of using oilfields to create geothermal energy was from former Texas State Rep. Warren Chisum, probably ten years ago.  When I was working on  my second geothermal episode I knew this was the direction I wanted to take.

I believe geothermal could be the perfect energy source.  It is abundant, renewable, and always available–a quality NO other renewable energy sources have.

However, I’ve always heard how difficult it is to implement.  Some places are too deep for water to be recovered as steam.  I’ve also heard the equipment is finicky.

Geothermal from oilfields has a few advantages.  First, the well is already drilled and that would lower upfront costs.  Second, horizontal wells, and particularly multiple wells drilled on the same pad would create enormous amounts of heat.

UND Professor Will Gosnold and his team developed the first-ever commercial oilfield geothermal facility in North Dakota.  They used a binary cycle system, and were lucky because the naturally occurring water in these oilfield formations was relatively fresh.

The project is often mischaracterized as being “co-production,” meaning hydrocarbons were produced at the same time geothermal energy was being produced.  That was not true in this case but Dr. Gosnold says it is possible.

I have long said that oilfield operators could do more to maximize efficiency.  Rather than haul generators carrying Saudi-pumped oil to produce domestic oil, they could be generating power locally.

Dr. Gosnold and I also spoke about the need to marry upstream oilfield operations with electric utilities to make these projects happen.  Hopefully now that this technology is proven, we will see more of these partnerships. (This podcast originally aired in July 2018).


Energy Cast Podcast is hosted biweekly by Jay Dauenhauer.

Learn more about the podcast here.

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