Assessing the prospective resource base for enhanced geothermal systems in Europe
In this study the resource base for EGS (enhanced geothermal systems) in Europe was quantified and economically constrained, applying a discounted cash-flow model to different techno-economic scenarios for future EGS in 2020, 2030, and 2050. Temperature is a critical parameter that controls the amount of thermal energy available in the subsurface. Therefore, the first step in assessing the European resource base for EGS is the construction of a subsurface temperature model of onshore Europe. Subsurface temperatures were computed to a depth of 10 km below ground level for a regular 3-D hexahedral grid with a horizontal resolution of 10 km and a vertical resolution of 250 m. Vertical conductive heat transport was considered as the main heat transfer mechanism. Surface temperature and basal heat flow were used as boundary conditions for the top and bottom of the model, respectively. If publicly available, the most recent and comprehensive regional temperature models, based on data from wells, were incorporated.
With the modeled subsurface temperatures and future technical and economic scenarios, the technical potential and minimum levelized cost of energy (LCOE) were calculated for each grid cell of the temperature model. Calculations for a typical EGS scenario yield costs of EUR 215 MWh −1 in 2020, EUR 127 MWh −1 in 2030, and EUR 70 MWh −1 in 2050. Cutoff values of EUR 200 MWh −1 in 2020, EUR 150 MWh −1 in 2030, and EUR 100 MWh −1 in 2050 are imposed to the calculated LCOE values in each grid cell to limit the technical potential, resulting in an economic potential for Europe of 19 GW e in 2020, 22 GW e in 2030, and 522 GW e in 2050. The results of our approach do not only provide an indication of prospective areas for future EGS in Europe, but also show a more realistic cost determined and depth-dependent distribution of the technical potential by applying different well cost models for 2020, 2030, and 2050.