Thermo-Hydrological Modeling of Thermal Energy Storage in a Depleted Oil Reservoir

Ram Kumar, Dayo Akindipe, Patrick Dobson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Thermal energy storage in oil and gas reservoirs leverages the existing surface and subsurface infrastructure, which can pave the way for economic production of geothermal energy. Existing studies on geothermal energy storage are focused mostly on the use of aquifers with more homogeneous rock and fluid properties. Coupling of heat and fluid flow in a multiphase-multicomponent system, such as an oil reservoir, is imperative especially if existing oil field assets need to be repurposed as required for a sustainable energy transition. The objective is to model the subsurface thermo-hydrological processes associated with reservoir performance and operational sustainability. The model evaluates formation pressure and temperature within the reservoir and at the injection/production wells during multiple charge and discharge cycles. Hot water (approximately 200 degrees C) heated by Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) at high pressure is injected into the existing oil reservoir for storage and produced as thermal energy for power generation, which will be accompanied by enhanced oil recovery. To demonstrate the coupled fluid and heat flow during the injection/production cycle in the subsurface reservoir, TOUGH3 (developed by Berkeley Lab) is used to simulate the thermo-hydrological (TH) processes in a multiphase, multicomponent system. Two well geometries are considered within the reservoir grid: 1) a single-well huff-n-puff system (same well is used for injection and production), and 2) an isolated injection-production well doublet. Seasonal charge and discharge cycling are implemented based on the scheduling specified in the model input file. The model reports pressure, temperature, enthalpy, liquid fluxes, heat fluxes, pore velocities, and changes in porosity & permeability due to temperature and pressure variations during the cyclic Reservoir Thermal Energy Storage (RTES) operations. The results from the simulations can be used to optimize the operational parameters (such as well spacing and injection/production rates) and round-trip efficiency for surface power-plants coupled with thermal energy storage over time. They can also serve as important inputs for levelized cost of storage estimations. The research will help to design and integrate surface renewable energy sources, such as concentrating solar power (CSP), with RTES to help balance out power supply and demand on the grid.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2023
Event2023 Geothermal Rising Conference - Reno, Nevada
Duration: 1 Oct 20234 Oct 2023


Conference2023 Geothermal Rising Conference
CityReno, Nevada

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5700-88731


  • CSP
  • geothermal
  • reservoir performance
  • RTES
  • thermo-hydrological modeling


Dive into the research topics of 'Thermo-Hydrological Modeling of Thermal Energy Storage in a Depleted Oil Reservoir'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this