Modeling Subsurface Performance of a Geothermal Reservoir Using Machine Learning

Dmitry Duplyakin, Koenraad Beckers, Drew Siler, Michael Martin, Henry Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus Citations


Geothermal power plants typically show decreasing heat and power production rates over time. Mitigation strategies include optimizing the management of existing wells—increasing or decreasing the fluid flow rates across the wells—and drilling new wells at appropriate locations. The latter is expensive, time-consuming, and subject to many engineering constraints, but the former is a viable mechanism for periodic adjustment of the available fluid allocations. In this study, we describe a new approach combining reservoir modeling and machine learning to produce models that enable such a strategy. Our computational approach allows us, first, to translate sets of potential flow rates for the active wells into reservoir-wide estimates of produced energy, and second, to find optimal flow allocations among the studied sets. In our computational experiments, we utilize collections of simulations for a specific reservoir (which capture subsurface characterization and realize history matching) along with machine learning models that predict temperature and pressure timeseries for production wells. We evaluate this approach using an “open-source” reservoir we have constructed that captures many of the characteristics of Brady Hot Springs, a commercially operational geothermal field in Nevada, USA. Selected results from a reservoir model of Brady Hot Springs itself are presented to show successful application to an existing system. In both cases, energy predictions prove to be highly accurate: all observed prediction errors do not exceed 3.68% for temperatures and 4.75% for pressures. In a cumulative energy estimation, we observe prediction errors that are less than 4.04%. A typical reservoir simulation for Brady Hot Springs completes in approximately 4 h, whereas our machine learning models yield accurate 20-year predictions for temperatures, pressures, and produced energy in 0.9 s. This paper aims to demonstrate how the models and techniques from our study can be applied to achieve rapid exploration of controlled parameters and optimization of other geothermal reservoirs.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number967
Number of pages20
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2C00-81691


  • Energy predictions
  • Geothermal reservoir management
  • Geothermal reservoir modeling
  • Machine learning


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