The European Research Project FlexGeo has been officially launched with the objective of developing and demonstrating innovative geothermal energy system designs for maximized system performance and flexibility. This project receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

A major focus of the project will lie on the worldwide first demonstration of a reversible 200 kWel modular Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) / high-temperature heat pump (HTHP) system on a TRL 7 level.  In addition, advanced control strategies for district heating and cooling networks (DHCN) are developed and demonstrated.

Groundbreaking flexibility enhancement

The FlexGeo approach relies on the innovative combination of modular reversibleORC units with underground thermal energy storage (UTES) systems and advanced smart control. This enables the provision of flexible services to the grid and reaction to the economic market signals throughout the year, while still ensuring the supply of current heating demand.

Advanced control strategies based on artificial intelligence, using concepts such as reinforcement learning, will maximize the flexibility of ORC and HTHP and improve system and component-specific monitoring and maintenance. This can lead to a significant increase in the flexibility capacities of smart thermal grids as well as reduced ramp-up times.

The reversibility allows the ORC unit to act as both electricity producer and consumer, depending on the actual needs of the energy system. This effectively means that the ORC unit can provide twice its installed capacity for secondary control reserve.