Geologic Energy Storage

Science Center Objects

The United States (U.S.) domestic energy supply increasingly relies on natural gas and renewable sources; however, their efficient use is limited by supply and demand constraints. For example, a) in summer, natural gas production may outpace home heating fuel demand and b) in daytime, wind and solar electricity production may outpace industrial power requirements. Storing rather than dumping excess energy for later demand is more efficient and may become more cost effective when given a better understanding of available geologic storage resources.

Geologic Energy Storage 

Subsurface energy storage options including natural gas storage, compressed air storage, pumped hydroelectric storage, and geothermal storage; each requiring additional geologic investigations and potential future assessments of available storage resources.  

Subsurface energy storage options include natural gas storage, compressed air storage, pumped hydroelectric storage, and geothermal storage. Each geologic storage option requires additional subsurface characterization to better understand the potential storage resources that are available for use by the U.S. energy industry. 

The purpose of this research is to develop a better understanding of the geologic screening criteria needed to develop a potential future U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) methodology to assess domestic geologic basins for subsurface energy storage resources.  

The initial research goal is to compile a report containing recommendations on the geologic datasets needed and the key process steps required to build a probabilistic assessment methodology to assess various geologic subsurface energy storage options. 

The second research goal will focus on developing maps of potential subsurface energy storage locations (including salt domes, depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs, and subsurface formations amenable to geothermal storage).

Motivation 

The USGS has historically compiled resource assessment methodologies for technically recoverable hydrocarbons (conventional and continuous) and carbon dioxide (CO2) storage, and utilized these methodologies to conduct probabilistic resource size assessments. Advancing this expertise to develop and conduct a geologic energy storage assessment is a reasonable next step. 

In addition, a recent National Academy of Science report suggested that the USGS should work on such an assessment: “Assessing the [subsurface energy] storage potential for various basins in the United States could become a new and strategically important priority for the [USGS].”

Questionnaire 

To address outstanding questions on storage options and geologic parameters, we invite input from the engineering and scientific community. Please take a few minutes to complete our survey below. Your responses can be emailed directly to the 'Contact' on this webpage, Marc Buursink (buursink@usgs.gov):

QUESTIONS (Note: Responses will only be used internally for this project, and will not be shared nor posted online.) 

  1. What is your background in energy storage? (Briefly in one or two sentences is much appreciated.)

  2. What geologic energy storage option(s) do you foresee as most valuable?

  3. For each option listed, what do you see are some key geologic screening criteria (e.g. minimum or maximum depth, reservoir spacing, subsurface pressure regime, geothermal gradient, porosity cutoff) that should be considered when conducting a resource assessment?

  4. For each option listed, what do you see are some dominant risks (geologic and/or economic) that should be considered when conducting a resource assessment?

  5. May we contact you for additional insights and/or to serve on an advisory panel? If so, please share your preferred contact information.

  6. Do you have colleagues working on geologic energy storage that we should contact? If so, would you please share their contact information or forward this questionnaire to them?