Masdar drilling two geothermal energy wells

The ambitious clean-energy city is being built in the desert outside Abu Dhabi. (SUPPLIED)

Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Government's renewable energy initiative, has begun drilling two wells, based on their new designs to explore sources of geothermal energy, the Emirates Business has learnt. This is the first geothermal energy project in the Middle East.

"There are two well designs. One is to the order of 2,800 metres and the other is to the order of 4,500 metres. There could be several other wells (dug at a later stage)," a source involved in the project told this newspaper. "How many wells are to be drilled is something that is to be still decided," he added declining to disclose the location of the wells.

An Australian company called Ensign is drilling the well for Masdar. In August last year, Masdar hired Reykjavik Geothermal as a consultant for the project. Originally, there were plans to hire six drilling contractors.

Ensign began drilling the wells in January this year and is about "half way" through the targeted depths, the source said. "These wells are a lot more wider than what we will drill for an oil and gas well. You can begin with one well and then branch out into several laterals."

The offshore well is looking for a geothermal energy source such as steam or hot water. Masdar extensively studied the geography of the area and came up with the approximate depths of the wells. "As to what kind of well design that Masdar may pursue will depend on whether the shallow well (2,800m) design works or the deeper well (4,500 m) design does," the source said.

Masdar did not answer questions on the issue. Rough estimates put the amount of investment planned into geothermal energy projects at around $11 billion (Dh404bn).

Masdar is looking forward to produce five mega watts of power to power its air conditioning systems at the Masdar city. According to the latest available figures, the global geothermal production capacity is said to be about 28 GWs. About 70 countries are said to have geothermal energy projects.

Geothermal energy projects basically tap into natural temperature gradients deep into the earth's surface.


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