An integrated feasibility study of reservoir thermal energy storage in Portland, Oregon, USA

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Abstract

In regions with long cold overcast winters and sunny summers, Deep Direct-Use (DDU) can be coupled with Reservoir Thermal Energy Storage (RTES) technology to take advantage of pre-existing subsurface permeability to save summer heat for later use during cold seasons. Many aquifers worldwide are underlain by permeable regions (reservoirs) containing brackish or saline groundwater that has limited beneficial use due to poor water quality. We investigate the utility of these relatively deep, slow flowing reservoirs for RTES by conducting an integrated feasibility study in the Portland Basin, Oregon, USA, developing methods and obtaining results that can be widely applied to groundwater systems elsewhere. As a case study, we have conducted an economic and social cost-benefit analysis for the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), a teaching hospital that is recognized as critical infrastructure in the Portland Metropolitan Area. Our investigation covers key factors that influence feasibility including 1) the geologic framework, 2) heat and fluid flow modeling, 3) capital and maintenance costs, 4) the regulatory framework, and 5) operational risks. By pairing a model of building seasonal heat demand with an integrated model of RTES resource supply, we determine that the most important factors that influence RTES efficacy in the study area are operational schedule, well spacing, the amount of summer heat stored (in our model, a function of solar array size), and longevity of the system. Generally, heat recovery efficiency increases as the reservoir and surrounding rocks warm, making RTES more economical with time. Selecting a base-case scenario, we estimate a levelized cost of heat (LCOH) to compare with other sources of heating available to OHSU and find that it is comparable to unsubsidized solar and nuclear, but more expensive than natural gas. Additional benefits of RTES include energy resiliency in the event that conventional energy supplies are disrupted (e.g., natural disaster) and a reduction in fossil fuel consumption resulting in a smaller carbon footprint. Key risks include reservoir heterogeneity and a possible reduction in permeability through time due to scaling (mineral precipitation). Lastly, a map of thermal energy storage capacity for the Portland Basin yields a total of 87,000 GWh, suggesting tremendous potential for RTES in the Portland Metropolitan Area.

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Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title An integrated feasibility study of reservoir thermal energy storage in Portland, Oregon, USA
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Stanford University
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 14 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Proceedings: 45th workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, Stanford University
Conference Title 45th Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering
Conference Location Stanford, California
Conference Date February 10-12, 2020
Country United States
State Oregon
City Portland
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