Comparative analysis of power plant options for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS)


Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) extract heat from underground hot dry rock (HDR) by first fracturing the HDR and then circulating a geofluid (typically water) into it and bringing the heated geofluid to a power plant to generate electricity. This study focuses on analysis, examination, and comparison of leading geothermal power plant configurations with a geofluid temperature from 200 to 800 °C, and also analyzes the embodied energy of EGS surface power plants. The power generation analysis is focused on flash type cycles for using subcritical geofluid (textless374 °C) and expansion type cycles for using supercritical geofluid (textgreater374 °C). Key findings of this study include: (i) double-flash plants have 24.3%-29.0% higher geofluid effectiveness than single-flash ones, and 3%-10% lower specific embodied energy; (ii) the expansion type plants have geofluid effectiveness textgreater 750 kJ/kg, significantly higher than flash type plants (geofluid effectiveness textless 300 kJ/kg) and the specific embodied energy is lower; (iii) to increase the turbine outlet vapor fraction from 0.75 to 0.90, we include superheating by geofluid but that reduces the geofluid effectiveness by 28.3%; (iv) for geofluid temperatures above 650 °C, double-expansion plants have a 2% higher geofluid effectiveness and 5%-8% lower specific embodied energy than single-expansion ones.