Towards optimisation of geothermal heat recovery: An example from the West Netherlands Basin

C. J. L. Willems*, H. M. Nick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


The Netherlands experienced the fastest European expansion of geothermal energy exploitation in the past decade. The first Dutch geothermal sites proved that Hot Sedimentary Aquifers exploitation can play an important role in a future low-carbon energy mix. In this study, we estimate that with the expansion rate of the past four years, geothermal heat production from Lower Cretaceous Hot Sedimentary Aquifers could cover up to 20% of the heat demand in the province of Zuid-Holland by 2050. Although this is a significant amount, we show in this study that only 1% of the potentially recoverable heat will be recovered by 2050. This is because of inefficient doublet deployment on a ‘first-come, first served’ basis with operational parameters that focus on objectives of small decentralised heat grid demands. Instead, similar to the common-practise approach in the hydrocarbon industry, a regional coordinated ‘masterplan’ approach could be used to increase heat recovery. Utilising numerical simulations for flow and heat transfer in the subsurface, we showed that the heat recovery efficiency could be increased by tens of percentages with such coordinated doublet deployment. Based on calculations of the Levelized Costs Of Heat for both deployment strategies, we also show that current financial support schemes do not favour heat recovery optimisation. This study emphasises that although Hot Sedimentary Aquifer resources have the potential to cover a significant part of our energy demand, a radical change in financial support schemes and legislation are required to unlock their true potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-593
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date20 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Direct-use
  • Geothermal field-development
  • Hot Sedimentary Aquifers
  • Low-carbon heat
  • Low-enthalpy
  • Recovery factor
  • Reservoir engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • General Energy
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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