A method of extracting thermal energy, in a cyclic manner, from geologic strata which may be termed hot dry rock. A reservoir comprised of hot fractured rock is established and water or other liquid is passed through the reservoir. The water is heated by the hot rock, recovered from the reservoir, cooled by extraction of heat by means of heat exchange apparatus on the surface, and then re-injected into the reservoir to be heated again. Water is added to the reservoir by means of an injection well and recovered from the reservoir by means of a production well. Water is continuously provided to the reservoir and continuously withdrawn from the reservoir at two different flow rates, a base rate and a peak rate. Increasing water flow from the base rate to the peak rate is accomplished by rapidly decreasing backpressure at the outlet of the production well in order to meet periodic needs for amounts of thermal energy greater than a baseload amount, such as to generate additional electric power to meet peak demands. The rate of flow of water provided to the hot dry rock reservoir is maintained at a value effective to prevent depletion of the liquid inventory of the reservoir.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to the fields of geology and rock mechanics and, more specifically, to extraction of thermal energy from rock formations beneath the surface of the earth. This invention was made with government support under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to the Regents of the University of California. The government has certain rights in the invention.