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Artificial intelligence to be used in survey on geothermal heat – Helsinki’s first geothermal heating plant acting as pilot site

Helen is planning to build Helsinki’s first geothermal heating plant in the district of Ruskeasuo. A medium-deep heat well will be used as a test site for the new technology. At the same time, 3D seismic reflection surveying, unique in urban conditions in Finland, and the use of artificial intelligence are being prepared for analysing the survey results. The experiences and survey results of the Ruskeasuo pilot plant will be utilised in Helen’s future geothermal heat projects.

Helen’s first geothermal heating plant will become a pilot site for testing and developing the drilling technology and technical solutions. In the first phase, the production of the pilot plant will total about 1.8 GWh of heat per year, and the depth of the test heat well will be about 2–3 kilometres.

At the same time, the 3-D seismic reflection survey is also being prepared, the first of its kind in Finland. Artificial intelligence will be utilised in the analysis of the survey results, which is still unique even on the global scale. The drilling of a new heat well to a depth of 4–7 kilometres will be planned on the basis of the survey results and the experiences gained from the first geothermal heating plant.

“Our first geothermal heating plant is based on a medium-deep heat well. We aim to have the new plant in test and production use already next year. We will also continue to plan the drilling of a new, deeper heat well at the same time. We will utilise the experience gained from this medium-deep test heat well together with the latest technology: 3-D seismic reflection survey and artificial intelligence,” says Helen’s Project Manager Sami Mustonen.

The Ruskeasuo geothermal heating plant is still in the planning stage. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has granted Helen investment aid of EUR 5.9 million for the piloting and research of geothermal heat. The investment aid will facilitate the planning of the first medium-deep geothermal well and plant towards a construction decision in the next few months, as well as the study of technical solutions for geothermal heat for the purpose of the next projects.

Carbon-neutral district heat

Helen aims for carbon neutrality by year 2035. Coal use will be phased out already before that date, and in 2029 at the latest. There are several ongoing studies on replacing fossils fuels, such as the utilisation of excess heat from the process industry in the Kilpilahti area for the use of heating in the Helsinki region, other regional excess heat and environmental heat; in addition to geothermal heat we are also studying the utilisation of seawater heat. Ground-source heat pilots also currently being built: the new heat production model combines the best aspects of district heat and ground-source heat and optimises their use.

“Helen aims for carbon neutrality in 2035, and we are phasing out the use of coal already before that, in stages. We have several ongoing studies on carbon-neutral energy production, and geothermal heat is one great option. We will investigate the options further with this pilot project and the new seismic surveys. We see state aid funding as particularly important when we seek and develop new, scalable energy sources to replace fossil fuels,” says Helen’s Director Timo Aaltonen.

Facts:

  • Helen’s first geothermal plant is planned for Ruskeasuo, close to Hakamäentie.
  • The first geothermal heat well will be medium-deep, 2–3 kilometres, and it is scheduled to start production already in 2021.
  • The Ruskeasuo geothermal heating plant will act as a pilot for testing and developing drilling technology and other technical solutions.
  • Experience in using geothermal heat will also be gathered and new research data will be acquired. 3-D seismic reflection survey will be utilised in the study, and the results will be analysed with the aid of artificial intelligence.
  • The experience and the survey results gained will help to make a decision on a larger production plant where the depth of the geothermal well would be 4–7 kilometres.
Published: 18.11.2020 10:08
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