DEM gets building permit for geothermal power plant

Maribor, 18 May - DEM, the company managing power stations on the river Drava, has been granted a building permit for a geothermal power plant at a wellbore in Čentiba in Prekmurje, the only Slovenian region with some gas and oil. The plant will serve as a best practice demonstration project encouraging the production of geothermal energy.

The first of its kind in Slovenia, the project aims to use the geothermal energy potential of a 3,000-metre dry, unproductive wellbore near the town Lendava, northeast.

Aleksander Brunčko, CEO of Dravske Elektrarne Maribor (DEM), said on Wednesday that the project was another step in the transition to low-carbon society.

The partners in the project are energy companies Petrol Geo and Nafta Lendava while the Landava municipality has also supported it.

The testing stage could start in July 2023 while the plant is slated to be fully up and running in April 2024.

The completely closed system of the Pg-8 wellbore is seen as very safe because it prevents ammonia as the cooling liquid from coming in contact with the overheated rock.

DEM director Damjan Seme said that a closed refrigerant circuit will be enabled with the use of a geothermal gravity heat pipe.

This means that only one dry wellbore is needed to operate the plant, which means that it will not produce any gas or other emissions.

Brunčko said the project represented a niche globally, arguing that the concept is patented as a product of Slovenian know-how and can be used only by DEM.

In case of good results, the same concept could be used in other abandoned wells in Slovenia and around the world, so the project is seen as a milestone in geothermal energy development and a contribution to reducing pollution from old wells.

While DEM did not reveal the value of the investment, it said that the project had obtained EUR 730,000 in funding from the EU and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.