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National-scale reservoir thermal energy storage pre-assessment for the United States

February 19, 2021

The U.S. Geological Survey is performing a pre-assessment of the cooling potential for reservoir thermal energy storage (RTES) in five generalized geologic regions (Basin and Range, Coastal Plains, Illinois Basin, Michigan Basin, Pacific Northwest) across the United States. Reservoir models are developed for the metropolitan areas of eight cities (Albuquerque, New Mexico; Charleston, South Carolina; Chicago and Decatur, Illinois; Lansing, Michigan; Memphis, Tennessee; Phoenix, Arizona; and Portland, Oregon) so that computed metrics can be compared to evaluate RTES potential across diverse climates, geologic settings, and physiography. Permeable, semi-confined/confined units that underlie more-utilized aquifers and contain low-quality groundwater are selected for each city. Energy storage metrics are computed for the anticipated total thickness of stratigraphy for which RTES might be feasible, including estimated required well spacing, thermal storage capacity, and thermal recovery efficiency over time. Falta et al. (2016) showed that for a modern 25,000 square-foot (2,323 square-meter), two-story office building, cooling needs exceed heating demand for almost every region of the country. We therefore use Falta et al.’s cooling demand for each city as the representative RTES stress condition for metric computation, allowing comparisons across regions. Results indicate that favorable RTES conditions exist in each region, particularly in the Illinois Basin, Coastal Plains, and Basin and Range. Thermal recovery efficiencies are very high in all regions and increase over time. The thermal storage capacity metric is most informative in the pre-assessment and underscores the importance of mapping reservoir thicknesses and porosities to permit detailed mapping of thermal storage capacity per unit area as a key RTES resource classification standard. This assessment provides a basic understanding of the RTES potential in several metropolitan areas and geologic regions throughout the United States and will aid further evaluation of national RTES efficacy.

Publication Year 2021
Title National-scale reservoir thermal energy storage pre-assessment for the United States
Authors Jeff D. Pepin, Erick R. Burns, Jesse E. Dickinson, Leslie L. Duncan, Eve L. Kuniansky, Howard W. Reeves
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70218809
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Arizona Water Science Center; Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center; Michigan Water Science Center; New Mexico Water Science Center; Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center