Energy, Resources and the Environment

Early Career Scientists

Numerically simulating production in geothermal reservoirs: application to the Groß Schönebeck deep geothermal facility.

Numerically simulating production in geothermal reservoirs: application to the Groß Schönebeck deep geothermal facility.

Producing deep geothermal energy involves using a well, which can be several kilometres deep, to extract hot water in the aim of using its heat to generate electricity or for industrial applications.

The well is drilled into what’s called a geothermal reservoir; rock containing empty space, or porosity, which allows the passage or storage of fluids. Sometimes hot water is already sufficiently present within the geothermal reservoir, but often cooler water is pumped into the ground via an injection well in the aim of collecting it once it has been heated. The combined use of an injection and a production well is called a doublet and is a common method of exploiting geothermal energy. During the production or it is important to understand what is happening to this water as it is being injected, how much we can expect to get out at the other end and how hot it will be! This involves modelling the movement of the water, the transfer of heat and the mechanical stress and deformation of the rock, all of which are interconnected by coupled, highly non-linear equations.

Antoine Jacquey, of German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam is a PhD student working on methods of reservoir engineering. In his 2016 paper, “Thermo-poroelastic numerical modelling for enhanced geothermal system performance: Case study of the Groß Schönebeck reservoir” demonstrating an improved version of this method, which takes into account the change in porosity as the rock deforms, Antoine Jacquey and his colleagues applied these new techniques to the Groß Schönebeck geothermal facility.

The Groß Schönebeck geothermal reservoir is located just north of Berlin, Germany, and is home to an injection/production well doublet. These wells are used as an in situ laboratory for investigating deep sedimentary structures and fluids under natural conditions. The reservoir, at 4-4.1 km depth, is made of up Elbe base sandstone which has a porosity of up to 10 %.  Antoine and his co-authors apply the thermo-mechanical modelling techniques to simulate 100 years of geothermal production at Groß Schönebeck, providing insights on the longevity and productivity for similar geothermal sites. The latter are dependent on temperature drops in both the reservoir and the extracted geothermal fluids which occur as a cold water front moves outwards from the injection well (see Figure above). They find that the injection of cold water enhances the porosity and permeability (the ability of the rock to transmit fluids) which in turn increases the amount of cold water propagating through the reservoir, decreasing the estimated life time of the system from 59 to 50 years. Their study highlights the importance of correctly taking into account the coupling between the different thermo-hydro-mechanical processes.

Antoine Jacquey is currently a PhD student at the German Research Centre for Geociences, Potsdam in section Basin Modelling. His research interests include numerical modelling of coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical processes, deformation of fractured systems and localized and diffused deformation in porous reservoir rocks.


Questions of Resource Sustainability in a World of Consumers

Image Credit: <a href=“”>Paul Saab</a>

Image Credit: Paul Saab

By Lindsey Higgins, PhD student at Stockholm University and the Bolin Centre for Climate Research


In the Wednesday morning debate “Is global economic growth compatible with a habitable climate?” issues of sustainability in a consumptive world were tackled. The four panellists agreed that the goal set by the COP21 meeting in Paris of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C is unrealistic. Historically, fossil fuels have been necessary for economic growth and now even more difficulties arise from the need for resources to find resources.
During the debate, concerns were raised over the conspicuous consumption of the developed world and how people are generally more interested in what happens now rather than in the future. Jorgen Randers, author and professor of climate strategy at the Norwegian Business School, believes there is a need for short-term rewards to entice people into more sustainable solutions. He gives the example of electric cars in Norway and how the government removed taxes on their purchase to make them a more economically rewarding option.
When it comes to the minerals we now rely on, the easiest sources have been found and are either already tapped out, or are well on the way. The current challenge is how to locate and extract these resources from deeper under the Earth’s surface, since even perfect recycling of what we already have would not be able to keep up with current demands. The current question is whether it is possible to do this in a way that is socially, economically, and environmentally responsible. In his talk Monday afternoon, P. Patrick Leahy of the American Geosciences Institute introduced the idea of “resource colonialism” that is often associated with mining of resources in developing countries. Dr. Leahy is involved with the International Union of Geological Science (IUGS) “Resourcing Future Generations” initiative. This planning group aims to improve understanding of the demand, discovery, extraction, and social impacts of future global mineral needs.
According to Edmund Nickless, Chair of The IUGS New Activities Strategic Implementation Committee and former Executive Secretary of the Geological Society of London, there is a need for a social contract that ensures fair distribution of wealth. If you think you have a solution to this global issue, the IUGS currently has an open call for small funding proposals. The deadline for proposals is 31 May 2016 and more information can be found here.

Student reporter for ERE at the 2016 GA

This year we will have our own student reporter, Lindsey Higgins, from Stockholm University, at the EGU GA. Lindsey will be reporting on research presented in the ERE sessions on this blog and social media. Please let us know if you think you have a suitable session for Lindsey to attend and report on. Here is some more about Lindsey and her motivations!


Blog by Lindsey Higgins

As far back as I can remember, I have always felt drawn to the sciences. Fortunately, I had encouraging teachers when I was young and strong mentors throughout my university years. When choosing my degree program as an undergraduate, Physical Geography seemed like a perfect fit. It provided me with the opportunity to study a variety of topics and to really refine my research interests. At Buffalo State College in New York I chose a concentration of meteorology and climatology while also studying for a minor in Anthropology. This combination was the start of my interest in the intersection of human activity and environmental variability.

After taking part in any research project I could get myself into as an undergraduate, I felt the experience and drive necessary to further my academic career. At The Ohio State University I had the privilege of a research assistantship at the Byrd Polar Research Center in the Ice Core Climatology group. After working with a strictly climatological project for my Master’s degree, I was ready to move back into research that brought in the aspect of human involvement in the environment.

Currently, I am a PhD student at Stockholm University working with a crater lake in northern Tanzania. In my dissertation research, I use lake sediment to reconstruct past variability and remote sensing to look at modern fluctuations in the size of this lake. As this lake is an important freshwater resource for the people living around it, I became very interested in how it is affected by activities in the surrounding area and began collaborating with social scientists. If you are interested in this work, I will be presenting on Tuesday at 13.45 in room -2.47 during the session “Narrowing the gap: palaeoenvironment and human interaction during Late Quaternary” (CL1.06/GM6.9).

Aside from my research interests, I also find myself drawn to science communication and outreach. This is what led me to apply for a student reporter position at EGU. I often find myself asking how as researchers, we can translate our work to make it more understandable for the general public as well as people in positions to impact environmental policy development. It is my hope that after I complete my doctoral program, I can continue to be involved with this bridge between scientific research and public outreach.

I am grateful for this opportunity to report for the Energy, Resources and the Environment division and looking forward to sharing my experience at this year’s General Assembly!


Opportunity for Early Career Scientists

The Energy Resources and Environment Division of the EGU are looking to appoint an Early Career Scientist (ECS) representative in 2016. ECS make up a significant proportion of the EGU membership and it’s important to us that their voices are heard. ECS representatives are the link between the Union and its ECS membership. They give a voice to early career researchers and ensure their needs are met at the Assembly, and throughout the year.

The exact role and tasks of the ECS representative is not fixed but might include running the ERE Division blog, representing the ERE ECS within the ECS group and working with the ERE Committee. The appointment will be made at the EGU General Assembly, 17-22nd April, 2016 and will be for two years. A shadowing opportunity is available at the GA 2016.

If you would like to apply please send your CV and a cover letter with your reasons for wishing to represent ECS in the ERE Division to the Division President, Professor Christopher Juhlin ( by 1st April 2016. If you would like further information please contact the current ECS representative Sian Loveless ( Please forward this opportunity to anyone you think might be interested.