Servizi per la didattica

Geothermal Energy


A.A. 2022/23

Course Language


Course degree

Master of science-level of the Bologna process in Ingegneria Energetica E Nucleare - Torino
Master of science-level of the Bologna process in Ingegneria Per L'Ambiente E Il Territorio - Torino
Master of science-level of the Bologna process in Petroleum And Mining Engineering (Ingegneria Del Petrolio E Mineraria) - Torino

Course structure
Teaching Hours
Lezioni 43
Esercitazioni in aula 17
Teacher Status SSD h.Les h.Ex h.Lab h.Tut Years teaching
Vagnon Federico   Ricercatore a tempo det. L.240/10 art.24-B GEO/05 26 0 0 0 1
Teaching assistant

SSD CFU Activities Area context
GEO/05 6 D - A scelta dello studente A scelta dello studente
In the field of renewable energies, the course is devoted to the geothermal resources. The program will highlight the origin and dynamics of geothermal resources and fluids and the main exploration and exploitation technologies aimed to their use. It will consider both high and low enthalpy systems in terms of origin, behavior, potential and real uses, environmental and economic benefits and impacts.
In Europe, the energy sector is responsible for more than 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, in the current socio-economic-political context, by increasing the share of renewable energy across the different sectors of the economy is a key building block to reach the EU’s energy and climate objectives. In particular, EU is committed to making a priority goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% (compared to 1990) by 2030 and becoming a climate neutral continent by 2050. In the field of renewable energies, geothermal energy has undoubtedly a great potential. The main aim of this course is to provide fundamental aspects on geothermal energy resources. The concepts of heat extraction, heat storage and heat transfer will be treated from a geo-engineering point of view, highlighting the potentiality and limitations of this renewable source of energy. In particular, the origin and propagation of the Earth’s heat, the different methodologies for the exploitation of geothermal resources, the characteristics of low and high enthalpy systems will be treated during the course. Theoretical analyses will be supported by practical examples and applications, helping the student to directly face on simple problems related to the use of geothermal resources.
At the end of the course students should know the main principles related to high and low enthalpy geothermal energy systems, the main techniques of the geothermal exploration and the technologies for their exploitation in several environmental, territorial and geological contexts. Through practical exercises and field trips students will be involved in the processes of resources estimation and in the design and sizing of the geothermal plants.
At the end of the course, students should know the main principles related to low and high enthalpy geothermal systems, the main techniques for the geothermal exploration in different environmental, territorial and geological contexts as well as the main technologies for the exploitation of the geothermal resources. In particular, the student: - Will have a good technical and theoretical knowledge on geothermal resources, their properties, their potentiality and limitations - Will acquire advance tools for the design of low enthalpy geothermal plants, by coupling both geological features and engineering solutions - Will face simplified problems for the design of heat pump geothermal system in urbanized areas Through practical exercises and field trips, students will be involved in the processes of resource estimation and geothermal plant design.
Intermediate knowledge of the main natural physical phenomena, fundamental of math and fundamental bases of energy plants.
Preliminary knowledge of earth sciences, fundamentals of mathematics, physics, fluid and thermodynamics and thermal energy plants.
INTRODUCTION TO GEOTHERMAL ENERGY Fundamentals of geology, the structure of the Earth, origin of geothermal resources, geothermal gradient and geothermal anomalies, the thermal properties of the ground, field methods to assess ground thermal properties. Geothermal exploration techniques. FUNDAMENTALS OF HYDROGEOLOGY Introduction to groundwater and hydrodynamics in porous media. Water wells and wells design. Unsaturated zone and aquifers properties. Heat propagation in the aquifers. LOW ENTHALPY GEOTHERMAL SYSTEM Open-loop geothermal systems. Closed-loop geothermal systems. Thermal Response Test, Heat pumps and plants. Legal, technical and economic elements. Sustainability and assessment of resources. Environmental impact and implementation with particular focus on urban areas. HIGH ENTHALPY GEOTHERMAL SYSTEM Geothermal reservoirs (water and vapour dominated geothermal systems, hot dry rock systems). Deep geothermal exploration techniques. Uses of high enthalpy geothermal systems. Estimation, sustainability and environmental impact. Economic highlights in the energy world market.
The course is divided into 4 modules: Module 1 (9): INTRODUCTION TO GEOTHERMAL ENERGY Earth system, Earth internal structure, continental drift, plate tectonics, heat transport mechanisms, geothermal gradient and the heat flux. Module 2 (9): FUNDAMENTALS OF HYDROGEOLOGY The hydrologic cycle, aquifer definitions and properties of aquifers, Darcy Law, aquifer types, groundwater flow equations, hydraulic head, direction of groundwater flow and gradient, water table and potentiometric surface maps, water wells design and drilling methods, aquifer and well tests. Module 3 (29h): LOW ENTHALPY GEOTHERMAL SYSTEMS The thermal properties of the ground, ground-source heat pump systems, heat pumps, open-loop geothermal systems, closed-loop geothermal systems (design, performance, characteristics) Module 4 (10h): HIGH ENTHALPY GEOTHERMAL SYSTEMS Geothermal resources and reserves, geothermal systems: hydrothermal geothermal systems (vapour or liquid-dominated), co-produced and geopressured geothermal systems, enhanced geothermal system (EGS), magmatic and supercritical geothermal systems and hypersaline (hot brine) geothermal systems. Exploration program, technologies for power production, economic highlights in the energy world market: geothermal industry and geothermal power and heat market. High temperature geothermal systems: state of the art, resource assessment, geothermal energy in Italy. Module 5 (3h): NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL REGULATIONS
- Lessons - Numerical exercises on open and closed-loop systems - Field trips: 1) Low enthalpy geothermal power plant in Torino (Politecnico) 2) High enthalpy geothermal power plants in Larderello, Italy.
The course is structured into: - 43 hours of theoretical lessons to provide the basic knowledge about geothermal energy resources and their possible uses. - 17 hours of exercises on open-loop and closed loop systems and simple numerical modelling of geothermal pipes. During the course there will be one or two technical visits.
Teachers notes. These are the base for the exam. Suggested books: - David Banks, An Introduction to Thermogeology: Ground Source Heating and Cooling, 2nd Edition. Wiley. ISBN: 978-0-470-67034-7 - Ronald DiPippo, Geothermal Power Plants (3rd Edition) Principles, Applications, Case Studies and Environmental Impact. Elsevier. ISBN: 978-0-08-098206-9
Teachers notes. These are the base for the exam. Suggested books: - David Banks, An Introduction to Thermogeology: Ground Source Heating and Cooling, 2nd Edition. Wiley. ISBN: 978-0-470-67034-7 - Ronald DiPippo, Geothermal Power Plants (3rd Edition) Principles, Applications, Case Studies and Environmental Impact. Elsevier. ISBN: 978-0-08-098206-9
Modalità di esame: Prova scritta (in aula); Prova orale facoltativa;
Exam: Written test; Optional oral exam;
... Mandatory written test (10 multiple choice questions + 2 open questions). The final evaluation will be the sum of the results of the multiple choice questions and the evaluation of the answers to the 2 open-questions. The exercises developed during the course (not-mandatory) could be used to adjust the written test results evaluation. Optional (on-demand) oral exams only for students passing the written test.
Gli studenti e le studentesse con disabilità o con Disturbi Specifici di Apprendimento (DSA), oltre alla segnalazione tramite procedura informatizzata, sono invitati a comunicare anche direttamente al/la docente titolare dell'insegnamento, con un preavviso non inferiore ad una settimana dall'avvio della sessione d'esame, gli strumenti compensativi concordati con l'Unità Special Needs, al fine di permettere al/la docente la declinazione più idonea in riferimento alla specifica tipologia di esame.
Exam: Written test; Optional oral exam;
The purpose of the examination is to verify the knowledge and the understanding of the main characteristics of the different geothermal systems, analysed during the course and the ability to present concisely and comprehensively in short written texts the main elements learned. The mandatory written exam lasts 1 hour and consists of 10 questions with multiple choice and 2 questions with open answers. During the examination, it is not allowed to hold and consult notebooks, books, sheets with exercises, forms, calculators. The final evaluation will be the sum of the results of the 10 multiple choice questions (each closed question gives: 1 point if right, 0 points if unanswered, -0.5 points if wrong) and the evaluation of the answers to the 2 open-questions (10 points each). In the open-questions the notational clarity and the exhibition rigor allow to acquire the laude. The results of the written exam are communicated on the teaching portal, together with the date on which students who pass the written exam (>18/30) can ask to take the optional oral exam. After the publishing of the results, students that want to take the oral exam must send an email to the teacher. The same for those that are not satisfied and want to refuse the written test mark. In that case, the written exam should be repeated (the past positive evaluation will be definitely deleted). Without any email for taking the oral exam or for refusing the written test mark, the exam will be officially registered with the written test mark. The oral exam (2-3 questions) aims to explain the main concepts learned and can allow you to confirm the grade of the written test or modify it (increase or decrease it up to a maximum of 4 points). It covers the entire course program and has a maximum duration of 15-20 minutes. In any case, oral exam can be also decided by free decision of the teacher, in case it is appropriate to deepen after the written test.
In addition to the message sent by the online system, students with disabilities or Specific Learning Disorders (SLD) are invited to directly inform the professor in charge of the course about the special arrangements for the exam that have been agreed with the Special Needs Unit. The professor has to be informed at least one week before the beginning of the examination session in order to provide students with the most suitable arrangements for each specific type of exam.
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