The primary risks relate to induced seismicity but other risks also exist (e.g. borehole blowout, environmental risks such as water contamination). While the starting point (and the focus of past research) is hazard assessment, the more meaningful parameter to consider is generally risk, which is the product of hazard, exposures and vulnerability. As well as operational safety and accident risk, the financial risk to operators and investors is critically important.
Like all energy technologies, the exploitation of deep geothermal energy resources is not without its risks. Establishing appropriate risk governance for deep geothermal projects is a key requirement for advancing the technology, and for promoting market uptake. Advancing the technology to technology readiness level (TRL) 7 or higher requires established workflows to balance risks and opportunities in an informed dialogue between all stakeholders. Regulatory compliance and public acceptance demands transparent, state-of-the-art risk governance, including the assessment of technological risk (e.g. blowout, induced seismicity, ground deformation) and environmental impact assessment (e.g. ground water pollution, noise). Risk assessment, monitoring and intervention/mitigation concepts etc. need to be developed which will minimise any potential negative impact of the technology to levels as low as reasonably possible (Assigned Risk Adjustment Program). These strategies need to be adopted for various geological contexts (sandstone, carbonates, granite and volcanics), as well as for different regulatory and socio-economic contexts. The strategies will be validated at the DESTRESS pilot and demonstration sites. Likewise, in order to enhance the resilience of the technology overall, future projects should consider not only the risk to an individual project but also the ‘transfer risk’ that an accident at one site may have a severe impact on the entire technology.
The objective of this work package is therefore to identify, evaluate, analyse, manage, measure and communicate about risks related to soft stimulations. We will produce new standards and good practices in terms of risk management. We will focus on risk management from the point of view of operational and technological best practices and workflows and of business processes, as well as conducting a public acceptance study. Evaluation of risk ownership, risk mitigation with reduced environmental footprint and risk governance will also be investigated.
Several locations will be considered: northern Alsace and the Strasbourg area (F) including a comparison with geothermal work in progress in the Rhine Valley (D), Haute-Sorne (CH), Klaipeda (Lithuania), several sites in the UK, and Westland (NL). Experience from the failed deep geothermal projects of St. Gallen and Basel (CH) will also be factored in.
Low-cost risk monitoring in real time as well as environmental monitoring of residual chemicals due to former acid treatments will be a significant achievement of this work package.