Sedimentary Geothermal Feasibility in Nevada, Western Utah, Colorado, and the Gulf Coast Region of Texas Final Report


The objectives of this project were to (1) perform a literature review of sedimentary geothermal resources, (2) identify data sources and develop data-collection methodologies that characterize selected resources, (3) screen sedimentary basins and formations for sedimentary geothermal potential, and (4) evaluate the technical feasibility of one or more selected locations.

Numerous publications have characterized geothermal resources within sedimentary basins. A literature search reviewed publications describing resources located in Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. The most attractive resources have high temperature gradients, low drilling costs, and reservoir permeabilities greater than 10 millidarcies (mD). Prospects in Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah exhibit attractive characteristics and were chosen for further analysis.

Sedimentary resources in Nevada and Utah are most attractive, followed by tested resources in Texas and untested resources in Colorado. The identified resources in Wyoming and Louisiana had lower geothermal gradients and were not evaluated. Reservoir modeling and techno-economic analysis were performed at Marys River Basin - North in Nevada. Geothermal energy production at this location is expected to have a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) ranging between 10 and 20 cents/kWh. Additional work may result in lower LCOE estimates at this location and at other attractive prospects in these three regions.

Heat flow within three Colorado sedimentary basins reviewed as part of this study was calculated in targeted studies by the Colorado Geologic Survey and Colorado School of Mines. These calculations are based on bottom-hole temperature datasets with significant limitations and some variability but produce values consistently higher than the global continental average of 65 mW/m2for all three basins. Heat flow in the Raton Basin is the highest; however, permeability measurements from specific sedimentary formations with high heat flow have not been obtained.

Promising formations for sedimentary geothermal systems were found in all three regions studied - Nevada-Utah, Colorado, and Texas.

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DOE Project Name: Sedimentary Geothermal Feasibility
DOE Project Number: FY20 AOP 3131
DOE Project Lead: Mike Weathers
Last Updated: 2 hours ago
Data from July, 2020
Submitted Jun 30, 2020


National Renewable Energy Laboratory


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Henry Johnston
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Amanda Kolker
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Greg Rhodes
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Nicole Taverna
National Renewable Energy Laboratory


geothermal, energy, sedimentary, feasibility, sedimentary basin, Elko Basin, Railroad Valley, Steptoe Valley, Pavant Butte, Denver Basin, Piceance Basin, Raton Basin, Gulf Coast Region, Nevada, Utah, Texas, GBCAAS, Great Basin Carbonate and Alluvial Aquifer System, carbonate, AGS, advanced geothermal system, bottom-hole temperature, well data, LCOE, economics, upper, lower, carbonate aquifer unit, EGS, enhanced geothermal system, play fairway analysis


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