EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Exploring the Deep Geothermal Energy Potential at Weisweiler, Germany: 3D-Modelling of Subsurface Mid-Palaeozoic Carbonate Reservoir Rocks

Tobias Fritschle1, Martin Salamon1, Silke Bißmann2, Martin Arndt1, and Thomas Oswald3
Tobias Fritschle et al.
  • 1Geological Survey of North Rhine-Westphalia, De-Greiff-Straße 195, 47803 Krefeld, Germany
  • 2DMT GmbH & Co.KG, Am TÜV 1, 45307 Essen, Germany
  • 3RWE Power AG, Cologne site, Stüttgenweg 2, 50935 Köln, Germany

Devonian and Carboniferous carbonate rocks are present in the subsurface of the Weisweiler lignite-fired power plant near Aachen, Germany. The utilisation of these rocks for deep geothermal energy extraction is currently being explored within the scope of the transnational EU-INTERREG-funded “Roll-out of Deep Geothermal Energy in North-West Europe (DGE-ROLLOUT)” project, which aims to provide solutions to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions using a variety of geoscientific approaches.

Marine transgressive-regressive cycles during mid-Palaeozoic times enabled the formation of extensive reef complexes on the southerly continental shelf of the Laurussian palaeocontinent. Supported by favourable climatic conditions including warm, clear and shallow waters, the Givetian to Frasnian Massenkalk facies and the Dinantian Kohlenkalk Group, each several hundred meters thick, were deposited in North-West Europe.

In the Weisweiler area, these Palaeozoic carbonate rocks were covered by voluminous paralic sedimentary rocks and deformed to large-scale, generally northeast-southwest-trending, syncline-anticline structures during the Variscan Orogeny. Alpine (post-)orogenic processes further induced faulting, resulting in fault-block tectonics in the Lower Rhine Embayment area of tectonic subsidence. Significant multiphase karstification of the Palaeozoic carbonate rocks, which can be observed in nearby exposed counterparts, supports their enhanced geothermal exploitation potential.

3D-modelling of the depths and dimensions of the Weisweiler subsurface carbonate reservoirs is carried out using the commercial software Move [v2019.1.0; Petroleum Experts Ltd], and is constrained by lithostratigraphic data obtained from drilling operations, geological mapping, and interpretation of seismic profiles. The 3D-model exhibits a complex geotectonic environment, including the development of both parasitic folds and thrust faults prior to the generation of Tertiary fault-block tectonics. The depths of the tops of the reservoirs are estimated to c. 1,200 m for the Carboniferous and to c. 2,000 m for the Devonian carbonate rocks, taking into account typical thicknesses of the overlying and underlying strata. Considering possible tectonic repetition below the thrust faults, the reservoir rocks may also occur significantly deeper in the subsurface. The 3D-model is currently being transformed into a HeatFlow3D [DMT GmbH & Co. KG] / Petrel [v2017; Schlumberger N.V.] model in order to approximate the fluid circulation and pathways within the carbonate reservoirs.

Based on the current model, a target area for 2D-seismic surveys and a c. 1,000 to 1,500 m deep exploration borehole have been selected. These investigations will commence in the summer of 2020, and will then enable geochemical and petrophysical investigations of the Palaeozoic rocks. The possibility of deep geothermal energy extraction from the Weisweiler subsurface and subsequent evaluation of the transition of the conventional lignite-fired power plant towards its utilisation of renewable “green” energy is carried out in close collaboration with DMT GmbH & Co. KG, Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Infrastructures and Geothermal Energy and RWE Power AG, all partners within the DGE-ROLLOUT project. The successful realisation of this project may serve as a pilot for similar projects considering the forthcoming fossil fuel phase-out.

How to cite: Fritschle, T., Salamon, M., Bißmann, S., Arndt, M., and Oswald, T.: Exploring the Deep Geothermal Energy Potential at Weisweiler, Germany: 3D-Modelling of Subsurface Mid-Palaeozoic Carbonate Reservoir Rocks, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-16953,, 2020


Display file

Comments on the display

AC: Author Comment | CC: Community Comment | Report abuse

displays version 1 – uploaded on 02 May 2020
  • CC1: Comment on EGU2020-16953, Gabriela de los Angeles Gonzalez de Lucio, 04 May 2020

    Thank you for the well-explained presentation, I have a speficif question about the workflow, was the geocellular model buitl in MOVE or in the next step using PETREL? I want to know if MOVE works with high detail models.

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Tobias Fritschle, 04 May 2020

      Hello Gabriela and thanks for your question.

      We are currently working on the transformation of the MOVE model into a HEATFLOW 3D model, and HEATFLOW 3D in turn is based on Petrel. Since it appears to be complicated for Petrel to process the complex MOVE triangulations, we are currently merging the various MOVE horizons and faults into one closed geocellular volume (which is not less complicated considering the amount of distinct horizons, multiple fault sets and the displacements between them). In the next step we will then transform the MOVE geocellular volume into a Petrel model.

      • CC2: Reply to AC1, Gabriela de los Angeles Gonzalez de Lucio, 05 May 2020

        It looks like a general issue the mesh in MOVE to use the geocellular model in others processes.Thank  you for answering, it's an interesting work.