A global map to identify suitable areas to use geothermal energy for power production   

In the framework of a collaboration between the Institute of Science and Technologies Information "A. Faedo" (CNR-ISTI) and the Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources (CNR-IGG), the researchers Gianpaolo Coro (CNR-ISTI) and Eugenio Trumpy (CNR-IGG) realised the first suitability global map with a 50 km of spatial resolution, for the use of geothermal energy for power production. The map was the result of the combination of a geospatial analysis and an Artificial Intelligence model. Thus, different geological, geophysical, and environmental parameters were carefully selected as those potentially correlated to areas where the heat from the underground is already used for power production. With a 50 km resolution, the map reveals the probability of an area to be suitable to install an high performance geothermal plant. The map accuracy was assessed by comparing the results with the existing (and planned) 200 power plant worldwide locations properly predicting more than 92% of their locations. The model identified the following variables as the ones most influencing the assessment of the geothermal suitability for a site: CO2 emission, earthquake density distribution, elevation, surface heat flow, thickness of sediments, and air surface temperature. The best combination of these variables was automatically learned by the Artificial Intelligence model developed by the two researchers and was then applied for the map preparation.

The results of this study were published on the authoritative Journal of Cleaner Production (Elsevier). The used data and processes are freely available on the D4Science CNR-ISTI platform, which promotes Open Science practice and the replicability of the experiments.    

Reference: G. Coro, E. Trumpy. Predicting geographical suitability of geothermal power plants. Journal of Cleaner Production. Volume 267, 2020, pp. 121874  

For further information, please contact: Eugenio Trumpy, CNR-IGG (eugenio.trumpy(at)igg.cnr(dot)it).    

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