Slovenia’s hydropower company Dravske elektrarne Maribor, together with energy group Petrol and refiner company Nafta Lendava signed a letter of intent to set up a pilot geothermal power plant in the Municipality of Lendava. The project could represent an important milestone in utilising geothermal energy from abandoned gas/oil wells in Slovenia and across the globe.
“The HSE Group is the largest producer of electricity and with an 87 per cent share, also the largest producer of electricity from renewable sources,” said Viktor Vračar, General Manager of HSE. “These are our future. We are entering the investment cycle of building solar power plants: this year, we are setting up two large solar power plants at the Prapretno and Zlatoličje location and the procedures for obtaining permits for the construction of the first three hydroelectric power plants in the middle part of the Sava river have begun. We believe that the project of utilising geothermal energy for electricity generation will also grow into a successful new investment.”
Due to its reliability and permanence, geothermal energy has enormous potential among renewable energy sources, as, in contrast to wind and solar energy, it is available constantly, every day of the year. It has many advantages over traditional fossil fuel-based energy sources, the most significant being that it is clean and safe for the environment, as it does not produce harmful emissions.
Another advantage is the geothermal energy reserve, which is available and practically inexhaustible. Geothermal energy can be used for heating and cooling or used to generate electricity. The latter requires appropriate temperature sources, including tectonic active regions, where abandoned gas/oil wells are often located. There are over ten million of them worldwide and at least fifteen in Slovenia, which represent the potential for generating electricity from geothermal sources.
With the above in mind, the project partners are preparing a pilot project for electricity generation, with a geothermal gravity heat pipe in the Pg-8 well in Prekmurje. The purpose of this applied research pilot project is the practical implementation and use of a completely new method of electricity generation, with a geothermal gravitational heat pipe, which is the result of Slovenian knowledge.
“Innovative approaches to solving energy challenges are not unknown to Slovenia, as we have a lot of expertise and practical experience,” said Jože Bajuk, Member of the Management Board of Petrol. “Projects like this have great potential to meet the goals on the path to a low-carbon energy society, which is also one of Petrol’s main strategic priorities. We want as many such integrated partnerships as possible in the energy transition from traditional to cleaner, renewable energy sources. I believe that, together with our partners, we will successfully implement the project, which will demonstrate this completely new way of using geothermal energy to the region and beyond.”
The project plans the construction of a small pilot power plant with a geothermal gravity heat pipe in the well, about three kilometres deep. If the results of the pilot project are favourable, the designed concept can be used on other abandoned wells within Slovenia and around the globe. The project, therefore, represents an important milestone for the development of geothermal energy, and a contribution to the reduction of pollution from abandoned wells around the world.