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Geothermal cooling

Background. Although the technology has been around for some time, air-conditioning using heat—so-called “thermal cooling”—is an unintuitive and even unlikely notion for most people. In addition, it presents specific challenges in terms of system integration that can usually be avoided in purely electrical cooling plants. This translates into higher installed cost for thermal cooling. However, when the intent is to harness renewable energies for the specific purpose of cooling premises, it is tempting to bypass conversion of the energy into electricity and directly use the heat. The process of collecting heat—in the form of hot water or steam—from a geothermal well is particularly efficient. In addition, thermal cooling can operate at temperatures as low as 90 C. This means that we can use low-exergy (and low-cost) renewable resources such as direct geothermal energy from mid-depth wells (2-3 km).

Context. Masdar City has successfully drilled two deep geothermal wells (both at ~2500 meter depth) into a water carrying aquifer (Simsima). The project was approved on November 24, 2009 by Masdar’s Investment Committee and was subsequently executed by Reykjavik Geothermal. After drilling was completed, Schlumberger tested the wells and evaluated the geothermal potential. It was revealed that we can get ~90-95 deg. C hot water out of the production well in large quantities—close to 100 liter/s. Under these conditions, the single production well can produce more than 10 MW of thermal energy. The available geothermal resource would be sufficient for at least 1000 Refrigeration Tons of absorption cooling capacity. 

Objective. The current project aims at studying the feasibility of such a plant and, if the outcome is favorable, to specify a small-scale pilot project in order to prove the reliability and competitiveness of the technology.