Geothermal energy systems

Geothermal power plant in Riem (Munich), run by the public utility company SWM [Courtesy of Stadtwerke München GmbH, © SWM]

This project is funded by the federal state of Bavaria as part of the cooperative research network „Geothermie-Allianz Bayern“. This interdisciplinary alliance of research institutions aims to pool competences related to geothermal energy systems throughout Bavaria, e.g. mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemistry, geology and economics.

Project description

Geothermal energy can be used to provide both, electrical power or thermal power, which makes it a versatile resource for renewable energy and a promising supplement to the energy mix of low-carbon power systems. Unlike wind energy or PV, geothermal power generation is plannable and may hence be used to provide base load power. However, the electric submersible pump (ESP) which is used to transport geothermal fluid to the surface is exposed to severe stresses due to high temperatures and water pressure. This constitutes the major bottleneck of the technology as the maintenance expenses for geothermal power plants are comparably high. In order to increase the reliability of such systems the main objectives of this project are: 

  • Derivation of a detailed mathematical model of the ESP, power electronics and sensors. 
  • Design of an „intelligent“ control system considering fault-protection and efficiency optimization. 
  • Development of a condition monitoring system for the ESP components. 
  • Development of a modular simulation environment of the pump system for practical application in research and industry.