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From research conducted at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

The Gross Schönebeck geothermal research platform: from reservoir to kilowatt hour

Led by Dr. Ernst Huenges, GFZ researchers at the International Centre of Geothermal Research are creating a unique research platform to study the feasibility, sustainability, environmental compatibility and economic efficiency of geothermal energy. Utilisation of this energy form in Germany requires much deeper wells than in the Earth’s volcanic regions.

Foto Einbau Förderpumpe
Photo/Graphic: GFZ/Poser.
Foto Bohrlochkopf Geothermie
Bohrlochkopf der Injektionsbohrung E GrSk3/90, eingebunden in den Thermalwasserkreislauf. Photo/Graphic: GFZ/Poser.
Foto Injektionspumpe
Injektionspumpe, eingebunden in den obertägigen Thermalwasserkreislauf. Photo/Graphic: GFZ/Poser.

The two wells in Groß Schönebeck extend four kilometres into the Earth to water-bearing zones that are hot enough to operate the steam turbines of the power plant. Last year GFZ experts closed the thermal water cycle between the two wells at the surface. A corrosion bypass was integrated into this cycle to expose a test specimen to the extremely saline water and to improve the reliability of technical system components based on corrosion-resistant materials. A geothermal research power plant is currently under construction and will be put into operation in 2012 in order to investigate plant performance and identify optimisation potential for making geothermal power generation cost-effective and energyefficient. In the long-term view, Huenges expects that geothermal energy will have the potential to meet about five percent of the demand for electricity and heating in Germany.