EPOS-eNLarge is a new Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Infrastructure project by UU, TU Delft, KNMI and TNO Geological Survey of the Netherlands. It will provide the missing link needed to apply our understanding of micro-processes in the subsurface at the kilometer-scale where subsurface operations – and the effects of these – take place.
Meet EPOS-eNLarge researchers:
EPOS-eNLarge: Why now?
When EPOS-NL was funded in 2018, there was an urgent need to better understand earthquakes and subsidence in relation to natural gas and oil extraction. The problems associated with induced seismicity in the Groningen gas field of the Netherlands were particularly acute. In 2023, induced seismicity in Groningen, potentially ongoing after production stops, is still relevant. Moreover, it is now of great urgency to tackle greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with international climate agreements and strategies. Many of these strategies rely on increased use of the subsurface, notably for geothermal energy production, subsurface storage of heat, CO2, natural gas and hydrogen, radioactive waste disposal and/or continued exploitation, repurposing or abandonment of remaining gas and oil infrastructure. However, there are critical knowledge gaps related to better subsurface characterization, physics-based predictive models, hazard characterization and monitoring techniques. Dealing with these knowledge gaps urgently requires expansion of the national large-scale infrastructure for subsurface research.
What will it bring?
The overarching scientific breakthrough that EPOS-eNLarge aims to produce is a physics-based understanding of the subsurface. It is crucial to make the connection between processes governing behaviour at microscopic level and the observed phenomena at field scale. EPOS-eNLarge will build multiscale facilities (from micro- to field scale) with key elements for experimental studies on the dynamics of processes at different scales and providing experimental facilities for upscaling and validation of models, via field-scale monitoring.
Drilling to 4.5 km depth
A key element in EPOS-eNLarge is an up to 4.5 km deep well to be drilled alongside the DAP geothermall doublet that is being installed in on the TU Delft campus. This well will be among the deepest in the Netherlands, and will be deeper than the Matterhorn is high. As this well is purposed purely for science, this is truly a unique facility globally. It will be equipped with composite casing to enable both seismic and electromagnetic geophysical monitoring. This enables monitoring during active geothermal energy production, specifically:
- the hot-cold front in the currently exploited geothermal reservoir
- preferential flow paths in natural geological formations
- explore deep formations with temperatures of >120°C that are suitable for electricity generation
- the possibility of (re)activating presently undetected but existing faults
Central data access
EPOS-eNLarge further ensures that unique research data of the Dutch subsurface is made openly, and centrally accessible for future re-use, alongside other European data in the EPOS multidisciplinary central data portal.