Upscaling geothermal energy in the Netherlands: extending the resource base in an affordable, safe and sustainable way

Jun 14, 2021 | Lecture Archive

Jan-Diederik van Wees (TNO)

Geothermal development in sedimentary basin areas, previously targeted by oil and gas exploration, can benefit largely from putting subsurface information and models in a geothermal context. In the Netherlands, public access to relevant subsurface data from oil and gas exploration and production has facilitated growth of low enthalpy geothermal projects for direct heat applications in the past two decades. Transparent resource and performance assessment methodology has considerably helped to identify prospective (highly permeable) geothermal resources and to assess the amount of potential geothermal energy.  The workflow has been applied extensively for the Netherlands and results are publicly accessible through the web-based portal ThermoGIS ( However prospective areas are largely limited to reservoirs  marked by high data density from past hydrocarbon E&P,  and good flow characteristics.
Upscaling of geothermal resources, requires unlocking of a larger resource base.  Apart from exploration of “white spot areas” (i.e. areas marked by low data density),  extension of the resource base is envisaged from exploring both more shallow, as well as deeper resources, and the enhanced performance of (marginal) reservoirs by smart well and engineering designs. Furthermore optimization of integration of geothermal sources in heat networks, and pre-drill risk mitigation by play based portfolio approaches can significantly enhance geothermal potential.  Technical concepts, predictive  models and monitoring solutions need to be tested and validated by lab facilities from core to field scale in  order to robustly augment to more affordable, safe and sustainable geothermal energy production. To this end, The recently established Rijswijk Centre for Sustainable Geo Energy plays a key role in geothermal innovation ecosystems.

About the presenter:

Jan-Diederik van Wees (PhD Vrije Universteit, Amsterdam 1994) is principal scientist Applied Geosciences at TNO and professor Geothermal Exploration at Utrecht University. He is recognized international expert in geothermal energy, with ca 100 peer-reviewed papers in leading international journals on tectonics, reservoir engineering, induced seismicity, resource assessment, and techno-economic models. Under his leadership, TNO has developed thermoGIS, predictive models for geothermal exploration and performance assessment methodologies. He plays a leading role in various EU and national funded research projects on upscaling geothermal energy, including RESULT and warmingUP.

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