New head of department at Fraunhofer IEG

  Copyright: © S. Jünger/Fraunhofer IEG

In his new role as head of department at Fraunhofer IEG, Prof. Wellmann and his team are taking on the challenge of integrating geological data from small and large scales for concrete applications. Material properties in the micrometre range interact with the properties of deposits several kilometres in extent. The machine learning algorithms that link the geological data to subsurface models are similar to imaging techniques used in non-invasive medicine or non-destructive materials science. Since one can only indirectly observe the object under investigation, i.e. a deposit, a liver or the inside of a weld seam, one is dependent on efficiently using the information available from the outside, linking it with well-founded prior knowledge and always taking into account the uncertainties of the predictions.

"Ultimately, we want to use our geological models to support project developers in industry, public utilities and municipalities in making economic decisions. For this, site-specific statements about development, heat output and operating strategy are just as necessary as a well-founded estimate of their uncertainty," says Wellmann. "Thanks to state-of-the-art methods, we want to shorten the decades-long learning curve of geothermal pioneers like the cities of Munich or Paris to just a few years for cities in NRW. We are sharpening the proverbial axe today so that energy providers can cut down many 'geothermal trees' tomorrow."

Further information on Prof. Wellmann's field of activity and the future of geothermal energy can be found here.