Mexico: Kick-off Meeting of the GEMex Project

On 15-17 November 2016, the initial general meeting of the GEMex project was held in Morelia, capital city of the State of Michoacán, Mexico.

The GEMex project is composed of two consortia, one from Europe and one from Mexico. The European consortium was formed from the EERA joint program of geothermal energy and is funded through the International Cooperation Programme within the framework of Horizon 2020. The IGA Service Company is one of the several parties of this consortium. The Mexican consortium is mainly composed of the CeMIE-Geo (the Mexican Center for Innovation in Geothermal Energy), is leaded by the Michoacán University (UMSNH) and is funded by the Mexican government under a specific fund managed by the Energy Secretary (SENER) and the Conacyt (the Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology).

The GEMex project aims to assess the resources of two unconventional geothermal sites in Mexico: EGS development at Acoculco and a super-hot resource in Los Humeros. To do that, the project starts by understanding the tectonic evolution, the fracture distribution and hydrogeology of the respective regions, to predict in-situ stresses and temperatures at depth. The project includes the reservoir characterization using techniques and approaches developed at conventional geothermal sites, and high-pressure/high-temperature laboratory experiments to derive parameters determined on rock samples from Mexico or equivalent materials. All existing and newly collected information will be applied to define drill-paths and investigate optimum stimulation and operation procedures for safe and economic exploitation with control of undesired side-effects (see IGA News No. 105, pp. 28-29).

On November 15th, around 25 researchers and officials from the universities and agencies that are part of the European consortium met with their Mexican counterparts at noon, so starting the meeting. The representatives of both parts, David Brunh from GFZ and Aída López-Hernández from UMSNH, greeted the participants and presented the responsible of each of the three Sub-projects (SP) and eight Working Packages (WP) that constitute the project. After that, officers Susanna Galloni and Petre Petrov presented the policy context and the contractual obligations and communications within the European consortium, and then the first two working packages were presented. WP-1 is the Project Management, includes the decision making, communications and organization mechanisms, and was presented by Aída López and Egbert Jolie. WP-2 includes the dissemination and outreach policies and procedures for both parties, and was presented by Julio Vargas and Eugenio Trumpy.

The official opening was held on the morning of November 16th, with a formal ceremony with the presence of the Principal of the Michoacán University and the EU Embassador to Mexico, as well as representatives of the SENER, Conacyt, CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad) and the Michoacán government. After that, each one of the six technical Working Packages were presented by their responsible. WP-3 (Regional resource models) was presented by Luis Gutiérrez-Negrín and Damien Bonté, WP-4 (Tectonic control on fluid flow) by Domenico Liotta who talked also on behalf of his counterpart Víctor Hugo Garduño, WP-5 (Detection of deep structures) by Claudia Arango and Sæunn Hallsdorsdóttir, WP-6 (Reservoir characterization and conceptual models) by Alfonso Aragón and Paromita Deb on behalf of Christopher Clauser, WP-7 (Concepts for the development and utilization of EGS) by Abel Hernández and Jan Diederik van Wees, and WP-8 (Concepts for the development and utilization of super-hot resources) by Ernst Huenges who talked also on behalf of his counterpart Eduardo González-Partida. On the night of that day, the UMSNH offered a dinner for all the participants.

On 17 November the European parties discussed and adopted some immediate agreements, including the decision on the official logo of the project, the on-line platform for reporting technical progresses, and the places and dates of the semi-annual European meeting (March 2017 in The Netherlands) and the second general meeting (October 2017 in Iceland). After that, the Mexican and European participants of all WPs meet together, in order to avoid duplicities in the activities and organize the common field campaigns, and define the general interaction between each team.

It is worth mention that both sites, Acoculco for EGS and Los Humeros for super-hot resources, are own and managed by the geothermal division of the CFE. CFE has a geothermal exploration permit for Acoculco, and a geothermal exploitation concession for the Los Humeros geothermal field, as well as a huge amount of technical information and data on the areas. Thus, it was informed that a framework agreement between the Mexican consortium and the CFE was almost in force, and that all communications with CFE will be made through the Mexican responsible, Aída López. She will receive and manage all the technical and non-technical requests from all the WP responsible.

Outside of the official agenda, on the afternoon of November 16th, most of the European researchers went to Los Humeros and Acoculco in a short field trip conducted by Aída López, Gerardo Carrasco and Eduardo González. In Los Humeros, which is a geothermal field with an operating capacity of 68 MW, the visitors were hosted by the CFE’s personnel headed by Heber Diez.

GEMex (Cooperation in Geothermal energy research Europe-Mexico for development of Enhanced Geothermal Systems and Superhot Geothermal Systems) is one of the 11 geothermal projects under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. The other ten projects are, in alphabetic order: Cheap-GSHPs (Cheap and efficient application of reliable ground source heat exchangers and pumps), CHPM 2030 (Combined Heat Power and Metal Extraction), DEEPEGS (Deployment of Deep Enhanced Geothermal Systems for sustainable energy business), DESCRAMBLE (Drilling in dEep, Super-CRitical AMBient of continentaL Europe), DESTRESS (Demonstration of soft stimulation treatments of geothermal reservoirs), GEOTeCH (Geothermal Technology for Economic Cooling and Heating), GeoWell (Innovative materials and designs for long-life high-temperature geothermal wells), MATChING (Material innovations for the optimization of cooling in power plants), SURE (Novel Productivity Enhancement Concept for a Sustainable Utilization of a Geothermal Resource), and ThermoDrill (Fast track innovative drilling system for deep geothermal challenges in Europe) (see IGA News No. 105, pp. 26-31).