A Research Platform for Singapore

Geothermal‐driven technologies for passive enabling of urban sustainability solutions

This project is an Intra-CREATE project. The lead institution is Nanyang Technological University with Lead PI Professor Alessandro Romagnoli. The partner institution is TUMCREATE with Lead PI Dr Tobias Massier. Technical University of Munich provides active assistance with their expertise and experience from the Geothermal Alliance Bavaria.

The aim of this project is to provide insights on how to best extract and deploy infrastructure and expertise to harness Singapore’s geothermal potential for urban applications.
The key questions are:

  1. Where is the available geothermal gradient, and hence what are the temperatures at depths?
  2. What is the lateral extent of the geothermal gradient?
  3. What applications can we drive given the available geothermal resources?

TUMCREATE's role in this project is to provide answers to question 3 from a life cycle assessment perspective.
The project is divided into three work packages as outlined in the following

WP1 - Drilling campaign for physical validation of Singapore’s geothermal gradient

This work package aims to physically confirm Singapore’s geothermal gradient through the analysis of granite and groundwater components, shallow and deep borehole drilling, cross-borehole seismic imaging, temperature measurement and laboratory experiments.
These data will be used to establish and calibrate the numerical model in WP 2 and to perform the cost-benefit analysis in WP 3.

First, the study area will be selected and a drilling strategy will be developed. Then, the temperature profiles in borholes will be determined and rock properties will be characterised.

WP 2 - Development of numerical models for validation of Singapore’s geothermal gradient

This work package aims to build and enhance Singapore’s currently available geothermal model, and to develop an underground virtual laboratory based on the data from the drilling campaign in WP 1 as well as available deep borehole data. The virtual laboratory will also serve as a core engine of the underground energy resource platform that stakeholders from statutory boards, ministries and government agencies can use to visualise the extent of the available geothermal resource, as well as the various types of potential usage of such energy and the required civil engineering pursuits to extract the heat.

A geothermal model in the study area and general 3D temperature gradient of Singapore will be developed first. Then, an underground virtual laboratory will be built to allow for 3D geothermal simulation.

WP3 - Cost-benefit analysis of geothermal energy in Singapore

This work package aims to carry out a cost benefit study on the techno-economic aspects related with both the drilling and heat exploitation parts. As per the drilling part, the analysis will try to leverage on the outcomes of WP 1 and WP 2. Based on the results from the drilling campaign and simulation studies, it will be possible to understand the amount of heat available and the extension and depth at which the heat can be extracted. Based on this information, a techno-economic analysis will be carried out to understand the costs, and challenges/opportunities associated with geothermal energy extraction.

The techno-economic analysis will be combined with an environmental analysis using life cycle assessment. This part of the project will be carried out by TUMCREATE. The applications to be considered are district cooling (e.g. of data centres/estates), district heating, desalination of sea water, and power generation.