Well Design Challenges in Geothermal Energy Applications
Farina, Daniele
Iorio, Vanessa S.
Mangano, Pasquale
Santoro, Domenico
Dal Forno, Luca
Sanasi, Carla

How to Cite

Farina D., Iorio V.S., Mangano P., Santoro D., Dal Forno L., Sanasi C., 2023, Well Design Challenges in Geothermal Energy Applications, Chemical Engineering Transactions, 105, 427-432.


Geothermal resources represent precious energy sources to ensure sustainable power generation. As proposed in the majority of the future sustainable energy scenarios, geothermal energy exploitation is going to play a significant role in the energy mix to meet carbon neutrality target. Upon the different technologies involved, geothermal wells constitute the core and turning point for proper fluid/heat mining.
Indeed, the number of suitable candidates for geothermal applications could be significantly enhanced by overcoming a series of wells related technological issues. Therefore, the object of this work is to provide a general overview of the principal challenges that characterized well design and construction in geothermal applications which are mainly related to the type of geological system and its relative temperature level.
As a matter of fact, reservoir temperature guides most of the choices referring to geothermal systems not only in the selection of the final energy application purpose (direct use, power generation, combined heat and power) but also in well design definition. Based on temperature range, geothermal fields are usually grouped in enthalpy classes (low, medium and high) referring to fields characterized by similar energy potential.
From a well design and construction perspective, the low and medium enthalpy classes, in the range of temperature lower than 150 °C, do not present specific criticalities. On the contrary, high enthalpy scenarios, for temperatures higher than 170 °C, present many challenges for most of the current drilling and completion technologies.
Even though some field applications exist in high/ultra-high enthalpy scenarios, they still present an elevated risk of failure. Therefore, dedicated studies shall be conducted for all the elements involved in the well construction process such as: drilling fluids, cement slurry, metallurgy, drilling and completion equipment to properly account for their specific technical limitations.
In this framework, a clear picture of the actual technical gaps constitutes the starting point for current and next research activities. In the close future, the growing interest in geothermal applications will surely boost the born and development of dedicated tools to unlock the enormous potential of geothermal energy.