Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy | Geothermal

Exploration and Development of Deep Aquifer Geothermal for Direct Heat Use

Course Code: N580
Instructors:  Mark Ireland
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
3 days
5 sessions


The course will cover the utilisation of geothermal heat, the principles of the exploration of geothermal resources, and the fundamentals of developing this resource. Through paired classroom exercises, participants will deepen their appreciation of the impact of reservoir heterogeneity and complexity on development scenarios, the development options, decisions for direct use heat resources, and evaluate the key project risks and uncertainties.

Business impact: Direct use geothermal has the potential to make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of heating and cooling. For geothermal to become a more widely used sustainable resource will require an acute awareness of the uncertainties and risks associated with the exploration and exploitation of them. Participants will gain an appreciation of the entire lifecycle of developing direct use geothermal resources.

Duration and Training Method

A classroon or virtual course comprising 5 half-day sessions. Practical exercises and scenarios form a key part of the course.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Summarise the principles of the decarbonisation of heating and the options available.
  2. Establish the importance of characterising the reservoir from which heat is being extracted.
  3. Appreciate subsurface hydrological regimes and their role in geothermal energy resources.
  4. Understand the processes of well planning in development of a resource.
  5. Know how well tests are carried out and the basics of interpreting well test data.
  6. Compare different geothermal development options.
  7. Detail the principal risks associated with geothermal projects.


  • Decarbonising Heat
    • Need to decarbonise heating
    • Utilisation of low enthalpy resources
    • Heat Network Basics
  • Exploration and Resource Principles
    • Geothermal plays
    • Aquifer controls
    • Reservoir characterisation
  • Subsurface and Development Uncertainties
    • Well/Flow Rate Basics
    • Fluid Characterisation and Scaling
  • Drilling Fundamentals
    • Well design
    • Completion
  • Reservoir Quality
    • Fracture vs matrix flow
    • Impact of hydrological regime
    • Aquifer boundaries
  • Well Rates and Testing
    • Well spacing
    • Impact of reservoir heterogeneity pn flow
    • Types of well test
    • Basic well test analysis
  • Geothermal Development Options
    • Evaluate Case studies
    • Comparison of different development options
  • Demand-Led Exploration Exercise
    • Integrated Exploration Exercise
    • Project Risks

This course is primarily designed for geoscientists and engineers who can draw on experience of subsurface geoscience and engineering from the hydrocarbon industry but is suitable for anyone with a geoscience or engineering background.

Mark Ireland

Mark Ireland is Lecturer in Energy Geoscience at Newcastle University and has a breadth of expertise covering the role of geosciences in decarbonising energy systems. In his current role his research interests span the interpretation and analysis of geophysical and geological data, with applications across geothermal energy, hydrogen storage, and carbon capture & storage. 

Prior to his career in academia, Mark worked at bp from 2011 to 2019 across a variety of technical roles, including exploration and development, well planning and operations, and new business development. Mark worked in exploration and appraisal teams in areas such as West Africa, South America, India, and Azerbaijan. During this time, he was responsible for leading technical evaluations of exploration opportunities; developing plans for new high value opportunities across geographies and technologies; managing industry-academia collaborations; providing advice for computing solutions.

Alongside his energy research, Mark is involved in both undergraduate taught programmes and post graduate research. He contributes to the strategic direction of Newcastle University’s energy research through the Centre for Energy. He is also Associate Dean Global Partnerships and External Affairs, Faculty of Science Agriculture and Engineering where he provides leadership and oversight of the strategy and implementation of actions to improve the faculty’s global profile and networks.

Affiliations & Accreditation
PhD Durham University - Geology
MESci Cardiff University - Exploration Geology
AdvancedHE - Fellow
PESGB - Member
Geological Society London - Fellow 
Energy Group of the Geological Society London - Committee Member
Earth Science, System and Society (ES3) – Associate Editor
NERC UK Geoenergy Observatories Science Advisory Group - Member

Courses Taught
N580: Exploration and Development of Deep Aquifer Geothermal for Direct Heat Use
N583: Fundamentals of Low Carbon Energy

CEU: 2.1 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 21 Professional Development Hours
Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
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We issue a Certificate of Attendance which verifies the number of training hours attended. Our courses are generally accepted by most professional licensing boards/associations towards continuing education credits. Please check with your licensing board to determine if the courses and certificate of attendance meet their specific criteria.