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The risks of long-term re-injection in supercritical geothermal systems

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Abstract

Supercritical geothermal systems are appealing sources of sustainable and carbon-free energy located in volcanic areas. Recent successes in drilling and exploration have opened new possibilities and spiked interest in this technology. Experimental and numerical studies have also confirmed the feasibility of creating fluid conducting fractures in sedimentary and crystalline rocks at high temperature, paving the road towards Enhanced Supercritical Geothermal Systems. Despite their attractiveness, several important questions regarding safe exploitation remain open. We dedicate this manuscript to the first thermo-hydro-mechanical numerical study of a doublet geothermal system in supercritical conditions. Here we show that thermally-induced stress and strain effects dominate the geomechanical response of supercritical systems compared to pore pressure-related instabilities, and greatly enhance seismicity during cold water re-injection. This finding has important consequences in the design of Supercritical Geothermal Systems.

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Parisio, F., Vilarrasa, V., Wang, W., Kolditz, O., & Nagel, T. (2019). The risks of long-term re-injection in supercritical geothermal systems. Nature Communications, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12146-0

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