Ground broken for geothermal plant on gas well

Wellbore machinery.
Work launched to build a geothermal plant at an abadoned wellbore. Photo: STA

Slovenia will soon get a pilot geothermal power station at an abandoned natural gas well in the Lendava area in north-east of the country. Valued at €1.2 million, the plant is to generate 400 megawatt hours of electricity per year.

The project, called SI-Geo-Electricity, is run by DEM, the company operating hydro power stations on the river Drava. The company expects the plant at Čentiba to launch trial operation in June.

If the pilot project proves viable, the solution could be used at other abandoned wellbores in Slovenia and abroad, DEM said at an event launching the plant’s construction on 20 January.

DEM director general Damjan Seme said the project was part of a niche market in renewable electricity generation worldwide.

“The pilot project will be the first application of this principle that is the product of Slovenian know-how,” he said, adding that the project was a step closer to the low-carbon development and transition.

The project will use the geothermal energy potential of a 3,000-metre dry, unproductive wellbore. It will be a closed-loop system where the liquid refrigerant (ammonia) will not come into contact with the overheated rock, DEM said.

The wellbore is tubed and cemented and as such completely sealed.

Minister for Development and European Cohesion Policy Aleksander Jevšek said the innovative pilot project could be a milestone in using zero-carbon geothermal energy at abandoned wellbores in Slovenia and abroad.

The project is also seen as a great development opportunity for the Prekmurje region, the only Slovenian region with some gas and oil.

Lendava Mayor Janez Magyar said it was a huge opportunity for both the country and the municipality. Lendava started tapping into geothermal energy years ago and has used it in tourism, farming and district heating.

New projects are in the pipeline and the municipality would like to see the district heating system expanded to include businesses and certain villages.

The first part of the Čentiba project will feature underground works, followed by overground works. The company Petrol Geo, one of the partners in the project, started underground works in December 2022.