Geothermal energy is not the wave of the future…it’s here now, and as a member of a national coalition, WMU’s Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education (MGRRE) has been collecting data from across the state that will aid industry in the identification and development of geothermal energy, and integrating them into the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS). The data then will be made available to those interested in developing geothermal energy resources.
The Arizona Geological Survey is managing the national coalition for the three-year program. Now in its second year, it is funded by $21 million from the Department of Energy.
Dr. William B. Harrison, III, director of MGRRE, leads the research. He says, “This project will help us understand the geothermal potential in Michigan to an extent never possible before. It’s exciting to be part of this national effort with other states to address such a critical energy need for the state and the country.”
For the first two years of the project, he is amassing data from all subsurface rocks in Michigan, but especially those deeper than 10,000 feet deep. While geothermal energy in Michigan is not as obvious as it is in western states with geysers and hot springs, what Harrison and his cohorts are looking for does exist in Michigan.
“What we are looking for,” says Harrison, “is geothermal energy found in naturally occurring hot brines in deep rock formations.”
Harrison is finding his data in two types of well tests—originally conducted by oil and gas companies when they drilled deep wells: Drill Stem Tests (DSTs) and Wireline Logs (“logs.”) Before they can begin drilling, companies needed to know what the pressure in the rocks was and how fluids would flow through them. Harrison’s group also secured temperature data.
Other states are seeing an advantage in the possibility of using their many existing deep depleted or dry wells to extract energy from hot brine fluids, which would save millions of dollars in drilling these deep wells. Harrison says it might be a possibility as well in Michigan—but first he needs the data. “We need to know where these hot fluids can be found,” he said.
By compiling the geothermal data from each state into one data system, companies can more easily find the right places to produce geothermal energy throughout the country, which would be a shot in the arm for this renewable energy resource industry.
To track Michigan’s data, go to http://services.usgin.org/track/report/MI where you will find data about water chemistry, drill stem tests, and borehole temperatures.
Michigan geothermal data: Michigan Geothermal Documents : Michigan Borehole Temperatures | Michigan Drill Stem Test Data
USGIN Document repository
State Geothermal Data
AAPG Explorer 2012 Article: All 50 states participating—U. S. Geothermal Database Being Created