Numerical Investigation of Closed-Loop Geothermal Systems in Deep Geothermal Reservoirs: Article No. 102852

Mark White, Yaroslav Vasyliv, Koenraad Beckers, Mario Martinez, Paolo Balestra, Carlo Parisi, Chad Augustine, Gabriela Bran-Anleu, Roland Horne, Laura Pauley, Giorgia Bettin, Theron Marshall, Anastasia Bernat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus Citations


Closed-loop geothermal systems (CLGSs) rely on circulation of a heat transfer fluid in a closed-loop design without penetrating the reservoir to extract subsurface heat and bring it to the surface. We developed and applied numerical models to study u-shaped and coaxial CLGSs in hot-dry-rock over a more comprehensive parameter space than has been studied before, including water and supercritical CO2 (sCO2) as working fluids. An economic analysis of each realization was performed to evaluate the levelized cost of heat (LCOH) for direct heating application and levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for electrical power generation. The results of the parameter study, composed of 2.5 million simulations, combined with a plant and economic model comprise the backbone of a publicly accessible web application that can be used to query, analyze, and plot outlet states, thermal and mechanical power output, and LCOH/LCOE, thereby facilitating feasibility studies led by potential developers, geothermal scientists, or the general public ( Our results indicate competitive LCOH can be achieved; however, competitive LCOE cannot be achieved without significant reductions in drilling costs. We also present a site-based case study for multi-lateral systems and discuss how our comprehensive single-lateral analyses can be applied to approximate multi-lateral CLGSs. Looking beyond hot-dry-rock, we detail CLGS studies in permeable wet rock, albeit for a more limited parameter space, indicating that reservoir permeability of greater than 250 mD is necessary to significantly improve CLGS power production, and that reservoir temperatures greater than 200 degrees C, achieved by going to greater depths (~3-4 km), may significantly enhance power production.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-86072


  • closed-loop geothermal
  • coaxial configuration
  • geothermal data repository (GDR)
  • levelized cost of electricity (LCOE)
  • levelized cost of heat (LCOH)
  • numerical simulation
  • porous natural convection
  • supercritical CO2 working fluid
  • techno-economic analysis
  • u-shaped configuration
  • water working fluid


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