With the beginning of the 21th century, public concerns have arisen about energy demand in relation with quantity and quality of resources. There is a growing interest in generating renewable energies and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG), since energy production is,among all anthropic activities, the main source of GHG emissions with 80 % of the energy produced from fossil fuels (IAE, 2014). In order to reach Europe's 2020 and 2050 targets in terms of GHG emissions, geothermal resources will have to contribute substantially to meet carbon-free energy needs (Gaucher et al., 2015). Similarly, geothermal resources are also an attractive opportunity for scientific and technologic development to fulfil energy needs in South America and Caribbean, which should double by 2030 (Yépez-Gracía et al., 2011).
In Colombia, geothermal resources are being investigated close to Chiles, Tufiño, Cerro Negro, Cumbal and Azufral volcanoes, in the Nevado del Ruiz volcanic (NDR) complex, and in the Paipa and Iza area (Marzolf, 2007)
In Québec, the interest is manly in the St. Lawrence Lowlands sedimentary basin and the Appalachians (Raymond et al., 2012). Deep geothermal anomalies in the basement have been identified as possible targets and are being investigated to better anticipate reservoir performances and fracking feasibility.
In Belgium, several deep sedimentary reservoirs have been identified (Petitclerc and Vanbrabant, 2011), such as the Carboniferous limestone reservoir which is already exploited, in the area of Mons, with 3 deep boreholes drilled at about 3000 m deep.
In France, geothermal resources are exploited both for electric power generation (Bouillante in Guadeloupe and at Soultz-sous-Forêts in Alsace) and for direct heat (from aquifer in the Paris and Aquitaine basins).
In Chile, by mid-2012 deep exploration wells confirmed abundant resources in El Tatio and Tolhuaca geothermal fields, which, however, have not been developed. An uncontrolled well discharge event in 2009 during hydraulic tests in El Tatio created environmental concerns and led to the suspension of geothermal development at this site. It is expected that the first geothermal plant (Cerro Pabellón) with a capacity of 50 MW will start operations next year in Pampa Apacheta, northern Chile.
The general objective is to propose innovative field methodologies and modeling techniques to facilitate the decision process tying to the management of geothermal resources as well as evaluating public awareness and acceptance, which can further impact the management of these resources.
The specific objectives are:
Objective 1: Will focus on the analysis of conceptual model data for fractured porous rock.Choosing the proper conceptual model for analyzing fractured reservoirs is a crucial step for any kind of modeling exercise, since fracturation greatly affects rock permeability and this is strongly scale dependent
Objective 2: Will focus on numerical modeling of heat transfer and groundwater flow in porous and fractured media. Different scales will be considered, from local scale (data provided from experimental sites of the H+ network) to regional scale (Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia and limestone reservoir in Belgium). The numerical simulators considered will be open source software such as Falcon, Opengeosys and Elmer, as well as the licensed software Comsol Multyphysics and HydroGeoSphere, for which licences and modeling experience are already available in our research team.
Objective 3: Will be accomplished by conducting a survey on geothermal resources exploitation among the general population, students and scientists. The survey will be adapted to the potential exploitation of geothermal resources in each country and will provide insights regarding the current fears related to environmental impacts caused by geothermal exploitation (Barbier, 2002) and microseismicity caused by fracking technologies or re-injection of geothermal fluids (Gaucher et al., 2015). This exercise has already been conducted in Québec (Malo et al., 2015) and this work will therefore be adapted for other countries.