Slovenia: Pilot geothermal power plant construction in the works

Slovenia: Pilot geothermal power plant construction in the works

Dravske elektrarne Maribor (DEM), subsidiary of Holding Slovenske elektrarne group, with the aim of strengthening the position of the largest producer of electricity from renewable energy sources in Slovenia, together with its partners Petrol, d.d., Ljubljana and Nafta Lendava, d.o.o is planning to establish a pilot geothermal power plant in the Municipality of Lendava. “The project will be the first application of a Slovenian patent and could represent an important milestone for the use of geothermal energy in abandoned gas and oil wells in Slovenia and around the world,” DEM said in a press release.

Due to its reliability and permanence among RES, geothermal energy has a huge potential, as in contrast to wind and solar energy it is constantly available every day of the year. It has many advantages over traditional fossil fuel-based energy sources; the biggest one is that it is clean and safe for the environment, as it does not produce harmful emissions. The use of geothermal energy can reduce the use of fossil fuels, which also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Another advantage refers to the available geothermal energy reserves, which are practically inexhaustible. Geothermal power plants take up little space, as they are built directly on the energy source. An additional advantage is reliability, as production does not depend on weather conditions; electricity can be produced in a geothermal power plant 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Geothermal energy can be used for heating and cooling or to produce electricity. The latter requires appropriate temperature sources, including tectonic active regions, where abandoned gas drill holes are often located. There are over ten million of them worldwide and at least fifteen in Slovenia, which represent the potential for obtaining electricity from geothermal sources.

Considering the above, the project partners are setting up a pilot project for the production of electricity with a geothermal gravity heat pipe in the Pg-8 well in Prekomurje. The purpose of this research-applied pilot project is the global implementation and use of a completely new method of electricity production with a geothermal gravitational heat pipe, which will be the fruit of Slovenian knowledge (patent SI 23618 A).

The pilot project is planned in the settlement of Čentiba in the municipality of Lendava. It refers to an existing but unproductive Pg-8 well. A geothermal gravitational heat pipe produces sufficient heat flux for electricity generation at depths greater than two kilometres. The construction of the gravitational heat pipe is carried out in such a way that by exploiting the geothermal heat of the earth in the well the refrigerant evaporates; the vapors are led to the surface, where they condense and return to the well. The geothermal heat produced in this way can be used for heating and renewable electricity production.

The project envisages the construction of a small pilot power plant with a geothermal gravity heat pipe in a well about three kilometres deep. In the event that the pilot project yields favorable results, the designed concept can be used on other abandoned wells within Slovenia, as well as around the world. The project, therefore, represents an important milestone for the development of geothermal energy and a contribution to the reduction of pollution from abandoned wells around the world.

Dravske elektrarne Maribor director Andrej Tumpej emphasizes that the mentioned pilot project is a niche market on a global scale.

“The concept of using geothermal energy in this way is patented and the exclusive use of the patent is given to the Drava power plants Maribor. The pilot project will be the first application of this patent, which is entirely the fruit of Slovenian knowledge. The implementation, representing a new step on the path of development and transition to a low-carbon society for all partners, is an added value both for the local community and for the whole of Slovenia,” Tumpej concluded. /ibna