This is the official channel for announcements and news about St1 Otaniemi geothermal project so you will always find the latest news here. To find more news about the project go to St1 Company & Press Releases.
Under the information boxes, you 'll find the recording of the public event organised before the start of the stimulation stage (Finnish). At this page, you'll find also Frequently Asked Questions/Answers. If you have any questions or would like to give feedback, there is a feedback form at the bottom of the page.
The emission-free energy form of the future is found underground. St1 is drilling to a depth of around 6.5 kilometres in the bedrock under Espoo, deeper than ever before in Finland. The goal of the St1 Deep Heat pilot project is to build the first industrial-scale geothermal heat plant in Finland at Fortum’s heat plant in Otaniemi.
Geothermal energy is an exciting option in comes to zero-emission heat production. The success of the pilot project may revolutionise Finnish heat production. St1 has prior experience in sustainably produced, renewable energy, and geothermal heat is a natural next step for the company.
Fighting against climate change requires quick and sustainable energy solutions. One such solution is available in the huge energy resources in the Earth's crust. Geothermal energy - large-scale heat production that requires no combustion technology – is cost effective.
Have a look how a geothermal heat plant is constructed!
The process to harvest and utilise geothermal heat is quite simple. First, two boreholes/wells of around 6.5 kilometres are drilled into the ground. One of the holes pumps water down to the bedrock in order to heat it as a result of the warmth in the earth’s crust. The hot water is pumped up via the other hole, and the produced heat is captured with a heat exchanger and fed into the district heating network. Once completed, the plant will produce up to 40 MW of energy. The heat produced by the geothermal heat plant will be purchased by Fortum for its district heating network.
Penetrating the hard Finnish granitic bedrock requires both a purpose-built drill and some persistence. First, we drilled a test borehole to a depth of two kilometres and analysed the data and rock samples for information on the crust needed for the actual production wells..
The drilling of the production wells first utilised air hammer drilling technology (often referred as DTH drilling) to reach a depth of 4.5 kilometres. After this, drilling of the first well to the hard bedrock was continued with both water hydraulic hammer drilling technology and the traditional rotary drilling method. By optimising these technologies, drilling has reached a depth of 6.4 kilometres, deep enough in the crust for a temperature sufficiently high for heat production.
Another challenging stage of the project is achieving water flow between the two boreholes. In the stimulation phase we investigated how water injected in the first well flows between cracks in the fractured zone of the bedrock. The purpose of stimulation results was to pinpoint the direction to which the final stage of the second production well should be drilled, and to determine how water is made to flow between the holes deep underground. Geophones installed in the deep boreholes were used to monitor the flow of water in the bedrock.
After the stimulation stage, the collected data on water flow was analysed. During the analysis stage the drilling was paused and the drilling technology was optimized and further developed more cost-efficient. Drilling of the second production well was continued in fall 2019 and was completed in February 2020.
In April 2020 the Otaniemi geothermal pilot project has progressed to the finalization of the production wells. First, hydraulic tests are performed, on the basis of which the need for so-called counter stimulation in found out. In practice, counter stimulation means that water is pumped into the second production well. That ensures that the water supplied to the system flows as well as possible in the rock fracture between the wells. Potential counter stimulation would begin in early May and last for about two weeks.
The last phase in the construction of the plant will be equipment installations, such as pipeline and electrical installations. They will be carried out during the summer and autumn. The target schedule for the start of commissioning of the Otaniemi geothermal heat plant is October 2020. The plant's heat production will be fed via heat exchangers into Fortum's district heating network and can cover up to 10 percent of the district heating needed in Espoo.
Geothermal heat plants are already in use in countries such as France and the United States. Iceland, for example, has already been producing all its needed heat and half of its electricity needs with geothermal energy already for years, thanks to its favourable geological location.
The video recording of public event (in Finnish) of Otaniemi geothermal project of St1 . It was arranged in Otaniemi on May 14, 2018.
Why is St1 building a geothermal heat plant in Otaniemi?
Geothermal energy is a promising option when it comes to zero-emission heat production. The goal of the Otaniemi pilot project is to test and develop technically functioning and economically viable solutions to all stages of geothermal business concept – in order to be able to commercialise the concept after the pilot.
There are many challenges in the pilot project, however, its success may revolutionise Finnish heat production. It can significantly reduce not only CO2 emissions, but also small particulate emissions from traditional combustion heat production – i.e. improving urban air quality.
Are there corresponding geothermal heat plants already in use elsewhere in the world?
There is a plant operating in corresponding geological environment in Soultz, France, for example. Geothermal heating plants have also recently been constructed in Germany, with more planned. There have been plants in a more favourable geological environment, Iceland, for years, now.
What stage have you reached in the project?
In April 2020 the Otaniemi geothermal pilot project has progressed to the finalization of the production wells. First, hydraulic tests are performed, on the basis of which the need for so-called counter stimulation is found out. In practice, counter stimulation means that water is pumped into the second production well. This ensures that the water supplied to the system flows as well as possible in the rock fracture between the wells. Potential counter stimulation would begin in early May and last for about two weeks.
Why would you be conducting possible counter stimulation?
Water stimulation is a normal stage in the construction of a geothermal plant. It is conducted to ensure that the water supplied to the system flows as well as possible in the rock fracture between the production wells.
Would counter stimulation cause micro-earthquakes as the earlier stimulation did?
Based on the experience from the stimulation of the first production well in summer 2018, counter stimulation would likely cause micro-earthquakes deep in the bedrock.
How can you control the occurring of micro-earthquakes?
The effects of hydraulic tests and possible counter stimulation are closely monitored in co-operation with the Institute of Seismology of the University of Helsinki by using an underground geophone network installed deep in the bedrock. A monitoring system has been set up for the project, which will enable these measures to be carried out in a very controlled manner - without endangering people or property.
Would counter stimulation cause noise defects in nearby areas as in the summer of 2018?
Micro-earthquakes may cause momentary sounds on the ground in nearby areas. Sound waves can also resonate in windows and structures, but they do not pose a danger to people or damage structures.
We apologize for possible noise nuisance caused by micro-earthquakes that may occur to residents in nearby areas during the finishing phase of the heat wells. This is an important, but time-limited, step in a unique project that, if successful, could revolutionize the way heat is produced in the Nordic countries and Europe more broadly.
What will happen after potential counter stimulation stage?
The last stage in geothermal heat plant construction is the installation of equipment, such as piping and electrical installations. They will be carried out during the summer and autumn 2020.
When will the geothermal heat plant be ready for use?
The target schedule for the start of commissioning of the plant is October 2020. Once complete, it will be the world's deepest geothermal heat production plant, which will produce heat completely without emissions.