Clean geothermal heat deep from the earth

News about Geothermal Heat

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.

St1's Otaniemi geothermal heating plant pilot project progresses to a flow test phase

24.6.2021

St1's Otaniemi geothermal heating plant pilot project progresses on two fronts

17.12.2020

The finalization phase of St1's Otaniemi geothermal heat wells finished

26.5.2020

Geothermal Heat

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.

Video about the construction of geothermal heat plant

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!

A simple process challenged by hard Finnish bedrock

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 can 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.

 

Stimulation assesses the flow of water in the bedrock

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 progressed to the finalization of the production wells. First, hydraulic tests were performed to find out the need for so-called counter stimulation. That was followed by a counter stimulation phase during which water was pumped into the second production well to ensure that the water supplied to the system flows as well as possible in the rock fracture between the wells. The counter stimulation was completed in the second half of May 2020. 

Stimulointivaihe

 

Above-ground works and possible cross-hole flow test

The last stage in the construction of the plant includes installation of equipment, such as piping and electrical installations. These above-ground works were completed by about 75% by the end of March 2021 and the construction of the site was put on hold for the planning and implementation of the possible flow test phase of the wells.

The aim of the flow test is to simulate different production conditions with different levels of slow fluid flow test runs. The decision on the implementation of the flow test phase will be made after the completion of the pre-plan in spring 2021. The commissioning of the Otaniemi pilot heating plant will be postponed during the planning and implementation of the study.

The pilot project of St1's Otaniemi geothermal heating plant is in many respects, a project to construct the world's first deep EGS (Engineered Geothermal System) plant of this type.  Once complete, it will be the world's deepest geothermal heat production plant, which will produce heat completely without emissions. 

Public event 14.5.2018

The video recording of public event (in Finnish) of Otaniemi geothermal project of St1 . It was arranged in Otaniemi on May 14, 2018.

Questions and answers about the Otaniemi pilot project

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 progressed to the finalization of the  production wells. First, hydraulic tests were performed, on the basis of which the need for so-called counter stimulation was found out. During counter stimulation phase water was pumped into the second production well to ensure that the water supplied to the system flows as well as possible in the rock fracture between the wells. Counter stimulation was completed in the second half of May 2020.

The last stage in geothermal heat plant construction is the installation of equipment, such as piping and electrical installations. These above-ground works were completed by about 75% by the end of March 2021 and the construction of the site was put on hold for the planning and implementation of the possible flow test phase of the wells.

The decision on the implementation of the flow test phase will be made after the completion of the pre-plan in spring 2021. The commissioning of the Otaniemi pilot heating plant will be postponed during the planning and implementation of the study.

Why have you conducted water stimulation during the process?

Water stimulation is a normal stage in the construction of a geothermal plant. It was conducted to ensure that the water supplied to the system flows as well as possible in the rock fracture between the production wells.

How could you control the occurring of micro-earthquakes during water stimulation?

The effects of hydraulic tests and counter stimulation were 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 enabled also these measures to be carried out in a very controlled manner - without endangering people or property.

When will the geothermal heat plant be ready for use?

The commissioning of the Otaniemi pilot heating plant will be postponed during the planning and implementation of the cross-hole flow test – the estimated schedule for the start of the commissioning is at the end of 2021. Once complete, it will be the world's deepest geothermal heat production plant, which will produce heat completely without emissions.  

Do you want to ask more about the project or send us feedback?