Project LOW-BIN addresses short-to-medium term research and aims at accelerating market penetration of geothermal power generation technologies by improving Rankine Cycle geothermal power plants in terms of (a) market opportunities due to broader range of geothermal supply temperature, and (b) improved overall energy efficiency and costs. In particular the project objectives are:
- Develop water cooled Rankine Cycle units able to generate power from low enthalpy geothermal resources, with lower temperature threshold for profitable operation down to 65ºC (rather than 90ºC of present technology). In order to reduce costs, the machine will be tailor made for low temperature operation, namely for geothermal fluid supply temperature of 65-90ºC. This will allow Rankine Cycle geothermal power plants to target the market segment of hot groundwater, which is widespread beneath the European Continent at economic depths less than 2 km.
- Develop geothermal water cooled Rankine Cycle units for heat and power cogeneration with overall energy efficiency of around 99% by heat recovery from the cooling water circuit. The units will be able to utilize geothermal fluids of 120-150ºC (compared to biomass units operating at ~300ºC), and will use as cooling media the water supplying a district heating system (at 60/80 ºC). The proposed technological solution for the geothermal combined heat and power generation allows effective energy efficiency and cost improvements in geothermal power and district heating schemes, facilitating immediate market penetration of geothermal energy utilizing hydrothermal resources of temperature higher than 120ºC (e.g. Iceland, Italy, France, Greece, Portugal, Romania and elsewhere) and facilitating exploitation of the vast resources of enhanced geothermal systems for cogeneration of heat and power, which abound at depths 3-5 km.
- Evaluation of the developed units. In terms of technological, economic and market aspects. The LOW-BIN project apart from technological risks also addresses market and cost issues; the developed prototypes will be manufactured and demonstrated only if all technological, market and cost prospects are positive, as determined by the technology research and market feasibility analysis performed.
- Manufacturing of prototypes. If successful, two prototypes will be manufactured, one low temperature (1st prototype) at source temperature range of 65-90°C, and one for true cogeneration of heat and power (2nd prototype) at source temperature range of 120-150°C.
- Demonstration, on-site monitoring and technology validation of prototypes as follows. The 65-90ºC geothermal binary plant will operate for power generation only. The 120-150ºC geothermal binary plant will operate for power generation and district heating with 60/80ºC cooling water. The LOW-BIN project will demonstrate, on the one hand costs reductions associated with low temperature geothermal electricity (both prototypes), and on the other, how the integration, under full-scale operating conditions, of innovative technological solutions on geothermal cogeneration of heat and power (2nd prototype), can lead to improving both energy efficiency and costs. The demonstration sites are located in the geothermal fields of Simbach-Braunau in Austria and Bors in Romania.
- Dissemination of project results. The corresponding activities include (a) Market study, (b) Technology testing and validation, (c) Intellectual property protection according to EU and national legal codes and (d) Various dissemination activities such as this project website, the project brochure, announcements in geothermal conferences, scientific publications, press releases, etc.