Digital Solutions for Geothermal Power to Increase Operational Productivity and Longevity: Results

The results of Geothermal Rising’s’ workshop, facilitated by BiaTech Corporation: “Explore Geothermal Power Digital Solutions to Increase Operational Productivity and Longevity,” offer great insight into the current state of geothermal power generation, operational considerations, and critical areas in which data can be applied to increase productivity and longevity of the power plant. By using tools such as AI, machine learning, and digital twins, improved operational decisions can extend geothermal plant life, reduce costs, and improve performance.

We explored factors that may reduce the life of the reservoir, plant, or infrastructure and shared ways to extend life and mapped it into a framework for engineers and data scientists alike, streamlining decision making processes.

So how was it done? And what are the critical areas for improvement? Let’s explore.

First, we conducted an exercise to understand perceptions around digital tools and what the outlook for the future is. The consistent themes unearthed through this exercise were that presently, perceptions around data and digital tools are enigmatic, but the vision for the future is optimistic. Two case studies were also presented and discussed to identify and investigate root causes of problems associated with aging plants and facilities, and to prime participants for further discussion.

Then, we broke into group exercises to understand operational decisions from daily, cyclic, and long-term strategies, what data is used to make those decisions, and the systems utilized. The groups analyzed decisions from the perspective of plant operations, engineering, and leadership. By devoting time to analyzing day-to-day challenges, engineers were able to brainstorm fresh ideas and prioritize goals in making data driven decisions.

Following the group exercise was a brainstorming session in which participants used BiaTech’s Geothermal Issue Tree Analysis to create a framework that evaluated plant performance. The results of this analysis enumerated factors affecting functioning, including operational costs, capital expenses, maintenance, regulations, and market volatility, among many others. This led to ascertaining specific areas in which digital solutions can be applied for optimal performance.

The workshop identified five areas of high importance that can leverage digital solutions:

  • Using AI digital reality to map geothermal plants for operational optimization
  • Using data to improve dashboards of plant performance, steamfields, and reservoirs
  • Using AI models for historical analysis and measurement of seismicity
  • Identifying areas of high risk, including pipeline conditions like corrosion
  • Monitoring support for operator walk and thermal trending via drone computer vision
  • Explore advanced sensor retrofit for reservoir and well monitoring
  • Assess the health of current systems and options to integrate digital solutions

The world is undergoing a digital revolution, but many companies are ill equipped to benefit from the transformation, missing the eight core principles of digital success. Data-driven organizations, especially asset-heavy companies, are 19 times more likely to be profitable and sustainable. Companies that invest in machine learning and AI can increase their revenues by 38%. Clearly, there is potential for geothermal companies to leverage AI to increase productivity and extend asset life.

The team concluded that the value for geothermal companies deploying digital solutions include:

  • Lower Operations & Maintenance Costs
  • Increase efficiency & output
  • Increase life of plant and assets
  • Decrease safety and health incidents on-site
  • Increase the reservoir health

For geothermal companies, the problem is not the existence of data; it is the challenge to make data available quickly, and improve the quality of the data. High volumes of data currently exist in the geothermal industry, which makes it a prime candidate for renovation using AI and machine learning.

Chart showing results of prioritization exercise from Geothermal Rising / Biatech's Digital Solutions Workshop
Results of the prioritization exercise

Through BiaTech’s data maturity assessments and prioritization matrix, we prioritized the digital solutions that would have the highest impact with the lowest degree of difficulty of implementation. A key take-away from this workshop is how many of the key pain points for geothermal operators can be positively impacted by relatively simple digital solutions! 

This summary only scratches the surface of what was accomplished in the workshop. If you’d like more information about how digital solutions can transform and empower your business, attend the second offering of this workshop in Reno on April 16th!

Special thanks to Calpine for hosting, and to BiaTech for facilitating this workshop! For more information, contact