WIAS Preprint No. 2656, (2019)

Modeling, simulation, and optimization of geothermal energy production from hot sedimentary aquifers


  • Blank, Laura
  • Meneses Rioseco, Ernesto
  • Wilbrandt, Ulrich
  • Caiazzo, Alfonso
    ORCID: 0000-0002-7125-8645

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 65M60 76S05 86A20


  • porous and fractured geothermal reservoir modeling, geothermal multi-well configurations, finite element method, thermo-hydraulic coupling, optimization, open-source software




Geothermal district heating development has been gaining momentum in Europe with numerous deep geothermal installations and projects currently under development. With the increasing density of geothermal wells, questions related to the optimal and sustainable reservoir exploitation become more and more important. A quantitative understanding of the complex thermo-hydraulic interaction between tightly deployed geothermal wells in heterogeneous temperature and permeability fields is key for a maximum sustainable use of geothermal resources. Motivated by the geological settings of the Upper Jurassic aquifer in the Greater Munich region, we develop a computational model based on finite element analysis and gradient-free optimization to simulate groundwater flow and heat transport in hot sedimentary aquifers, and investigate numerically the optimal positioning and spacing of multi-well systems. Based on our numerical simulations, net energy production from deep geothermal reservoirs in sedimentary basins by smart geothermal multi-well arrangements provides significant amounts of energy to meet heat demand in highly urbanized regions. Our results show that taking into account heterogeneous permeability structures and variable reservoir temperature may drastically affect the results in the optimal configuration. We demonstrate that the proposed numerical framework is able to efficiently handle generic geometrical and geologocal configurations, and can be thus flexibly used in the context of multi-variable optimization problems. Hence, this numerical framework can be used to assess the extractable geothermal energy from heterogeneous deep geothermal reservoirs by the optimized deployment of smart multi-well systems.

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