Refining the Definition of a Geothermal Exploration Success Rate

Anna Wall, Patrick Dobson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The geothermal exploration process impacts project development timelines, costs, and overall perceived risk. However, the success in the exploration phase of a geothermal project - and the calculation of a success rate - is universally ill-defined. In previous studies, the success of a geothermal process is loosely defined as the number of wells that result in commercially-viable production. This work focuses on refining the definition of success for the exploration process to represent an upper bound to the likelihood a project will proceed into commercial production. This research examines the topic of success from both a top-down and bottom-up approach: a review of previous assessments of success rate that identifies common conditions leading to successful exploration, and a project-level review of geothermal sites in the western United States focused on decision points in the geothermal exploration process. The analysis not only considers the impact of factors outside of the geothermal reservoir (i.e. delays due to financing or permitting), but also touches on the length of the exploration process and the symbiosis between exploration methods. Using a combination of these analyses, future work will investigate which levers within the geothermal exploration process have the strongest influence on overall project success.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2016
Event41st Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering - Stanford, California
Duration: 22 Feb 201624 Feb 2016


Conference41st Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering
CityStanford, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-6A20-65773


  • exploration methods
  • probability of success
  • project development timeline
  • success rate
  • workflow


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