CSC/How To

From Open Energy Information


Project Overview

To print this page, use the "Print PDF" button at the top of the page.


The goal of this project is for students to contribute in the development of a series of geothermal case studies on OpenEI - a website that collects crowd-sourced energy information for public use, initiated in 2008 as part of the White House open data initiative. For this project, students will choose a geothermal resource area within the United States, research the area, write a case study, and populate the resource webpage on


  • The project is designed as a student challenge; classes from numerous universities around the country will be participating. Projects will be evaluated by a panel of judges and the students who produce the highest quality case studies will be awarded paid travel to present their work in a poster session at the 2014 GRC Annual Meeting in Portland Oregon, Sept. 28th – Oct. 1st.
  • Each student or student group will chose a geothermal resource area to research that will be the subject of their case study project. Each case study will cover a range of topics, including an area overview, a history of exploration and development activities, a description of the area geology, a summary of geothermal reservoir properties, and details of thermal fluid utilization. (See templates and links below).
  • Case studies should be thorough, but concise. Only factual information should be presented in the case studies (do not make assumptions or try to deduce information that is not provided from reputable sources).
  • Some resource areas have extensive cultural or mining exploration histories that precede geothermal exploration efforts. Students may mention these things in the case study narratives; however the focus of this project is about geothermal exploration and development, so it is unnecessary to provide extensive details when writing about exploration activities that had no impact on geothermal exploration.

How To Begin

  • Students may work independently or in groups of 2. Groups should be established prior to the selection of geothermal case study areas for research.

Where to Find Data

Many sources of data exist for finding data. Some good places to start are listed below:

How to Choose an Area

A list of geothermal areas still in need of a case study is provided in the Geothermal Areas section of the challenge webpage. Choose an area from the list about which you or your group is interested in learning and sign up for it. Area selection will be on a first come, first serve basis.

Some areas have much more extensive exploration histories and available information compared to others; this will be taken into account during the judging process to ensure that each case study receives a fair evaluation. To balance the workload, it is suggested that student groups of one or two choose recently discovered geothermal resource areas and student groups of three choose areas with more extensive exploration histories. It may be wise to conduct some brief initial research about several areas to get an idea of the amount of information available for each location before choosing your area.


There are four main components of your submission:

Student Documents

1. Case Study Narrative

(See Geothermal Case Study Narratives Template) The narratives template reflects the different sections of the geothermal area webpages on OpenEI and explains what information is desired for each section. Consult the example pages to gain a more in-depth understanding of what is expected for each section. The overall length of the text in the completed Geothermal Case Study Narratives Template should not exceed 25 pages, excluding the references list. Students should use Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri fonts in 11 point size with 1.15’’ line spacing.
Note: while working on the project use the template provided, then when the final drafts have been completed copy and paste the information from the template into the website. When pasting information into OpenEI use a google chrome browser so that you can “Paste as plain text” (Windows) or “Paste and match style” (Mac OSX) to avoid any errors that may occur due to special text and character formatting.

2. Exploration Activities Table

(See Exploration Activities Template) The exploration activities portion of this project is an important part of the OpenEI initiative, intended to provide future researchers and developers with an archive of information that can be used to evaluate which techniques have worked and which ones have not in different geothermal environments. This information will be available to the public, and will assist in establishing a comprehensive understanding of best practices in geothermal exploration.
  • Please review some of the exploration activity entries on the finished webpages to get an understanding of what is required.
  • Using the Exploration Activities Template provided, make an entry for each individual exploration activity that has been conducted in your area. Sometimes regional investigations covering a large area are conducted; these activities should be added if they were useful at your study location. In some geothermal areas, many exploration activities have been conducted in the past for other purposes (e.g. mineral exploration or oil and gas drilling). Including these activities is not required, however they sometimes contain relevant geologic information that is later used for geothermal purposes. In particular, information from past exploration efforts relating to rock alteration mineralogy and reservoir properties has been useful in identifying, understanding, and developing geothermal systems.
  • Make sure to select not indicated, useful, not useful, useful regional reconnaissance, or could be useful with more improvements from the outcomes dropdown menu. Sometimes it is not clearly stated whether or not an activity was useful—use your best judgment to determine whether the activity was useful for geothermal purposes, or select not indicated.
  • It is not necessary to manually add exploration activities into the website. The only requirement is to populate the Exploration Activities Template. Once the template is received by NREL the activities will be uploaded to OpenEI. Please be sure to enter all references that are related to an activity; properly linking the references is case sensitive, so reference titles should be identical to how they have been entered into Zotero, OpenEI, and the Reference List spreadsheet.
  • If you find an exploration activity that has been conducted in your area and the technique is not in the dropdown menu of the template please take note of the technique and inform your professor. Different techniques are often known by multiple names, and there are numerous proprietary variations of certain techniques that are more or less the same. However, geothermal exploration is an evolving field and new techniques are being developed all the time. If a technique is not on OpenEI and you and your professor believe it should be added, please e-mail Katherine Young at to discuss adding the technique.
  • Many geothermal areas already have some activities populated in the website. If your area already has existing activities, please carefully review them. In most cases, revisions will need to be made because the entries are either incomplete or have simply been copied and pasted from their original source. Plagiarized summaries in the activities lists need to be fixed, so it is very important to carefully review all activity entries that are already in your geothermal area page.

3. Data Tables

(See Data Tables Template) Fill out as much of the information as possible in the data table template. This information should also be added into the website in the final stages of the project. Data table information is located in the first three tabs in the Edit with form page for each geothermal case study area.
To add references for information in the data tables, click show Reference Fields on the upper right hand side of the edit with form page. This will reveal a reference box beneath each data entry box. Simply enter the title of the reference into the reference box. Note: reference titles are case sensitive; make sure it is written exactly how it has been entered into Zotero, your Reference List, or OpenEI.

4. Reference List

(See Reference List Template) Students are responsible for crediting source reference materials from which they have obtained data or figures during their research. Effective referencing requires that in-line citations in the Case Study Narratives be properly formatted for display on OpenEI and that complete metadata for each reference is provided. Students may choose one of two options.
  1. Students may manually format in-line citations using the current OpenEI Citation syntax. This option requires that the student or student group maintain complete reference metadata in the “Geothermal CSC Reference List.xlsx” spreadsheet for each individual reference cited throughout the project. Metadata in the “Geothermal CSC Reference List.xlsx” spreadsheet should include the information outlined in section III-4 of the “Using Zotero with OpenEI.doc” help document.
  2. As an alternative to the manual reference entry method, we highly encourage all student groups develop a spreadsheet of references, to be submitted by the Reference List Submission Deadline, so that they can be automatically uploaded by the OpenEI team. To help facilitate the development of this spreadsheet, we recommend students use Zotero, a free, cross-platform reference and citation management tool. Download links for the Zotero client and plugins for integration with various word processors can be found at Students may use the program as a collaborative tool to organize and share research materials within student groups throughout the project, and should become familiar with using Zotero to manage in-text citations. by the Reference List Submission Deadline, the collection of references cited during research should be submitted, as both a BibTex (.bib) format list exported directly from Zotero and as an excel spreadsheet using the “Reference_List.xls” template. For the purposes of quickly uploading your case studies information to OpenEI, it is extremely helpful for competing teams to submit a reference database with source metadata that is as complete as possible for each reference. Some metadata items are specific to individual reference Item Types, and so will only become editable when the Item Type is selected for a piece of source material within the Zotero client. Students should consult the “Using Zotero with OpenEI.doc” help document for detailed instructions on how to setup Zotero and associated reference tools for automatic formatting of the “Reference_List.xls” spreadsheet and of in-line citations in the “Geothermal Case Study Narratives.doc” template.
For more information on both of these methods, see the "References" section below.


Participating students should prepare their case studies using the Reference List, Case Study Narrative, Data Tables, and Exploration Activity Table templates provided by NREL. Once submitted, case studies and all supporting documents shall become the property of NREL, and may be used for publication and/or distribution. Case study submissions lacking any of the following items will be marked as incomplete and will not be considered during judging:

1. Reference List

Although the list of references will be submitted to NREL separately from the final report, it is required for the case study submission to be considered complete. References can be added into OpenEI manually or through Zotero, a free referencing program. Students may continue to edit case studies and add references after the Reference List Submission Deadline, but will be required to manually input new references into OpenEI that are missing from the list. If there is a short exploration history and very few references for your area, it may be easier to add references manually throughout the project. If your selected area has an extensive exploration history and many references, it is recommended to utilize Zotero for keeping track of and entering references into OpenEI. See the Instructions for Using Zotero with OpenEI document for detailed directions on reference management and formatting.
If you choose to manually enter references, refer to the following steps:
1. First, review the citation help page
2. When referencing information within the text of the narratives use the following syntax:
  • For journal articles, conference papers, reports, books, etc.:
    {{Cite|Authors last names year|Title}}
Note: do not put spaces between each author's name or the year
{{Cite|YoungReberWitherbee2012|Hydrothermal Exploration Best Practices and Geothermal Knowledge Exchange on Openei}}
  • For websites:
    {{Cite|Website URL|Title}}
{{Cite||Summary of Puʻu ʻOʻo - Kupaianaha Eruption, Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii}}
3. A reference page must also be created in OpenEI:
  • To create a new reference page go to and click on add a new Reference.
  • Enter the title of the reference and click Add/Edit Reference.
  • Another way to add the reference, skipping steps 3.1 and 3.2, is to complete step 2, add your narratives into your webpage, then click on the broken “RED” reference link on your OpenEI page.
  • Enter reference information into the fields on the following page.
  • Note: Separate multiple authors with a comma and no spaces, for example: Katherine Young,Timothy Reber,Kermit Witherbee.
  • At the bottom of the page check the geothermal reference box.
  • When finished adding information to the fields click Save page.
4. To add references for information in the data tables click show Reference Fields in the upper right hand side of the edit with form page. This will reveal a reference box beneath each data entry box. Simply enter the title of the reference into the reference box. The title must be written exactly how it was written in step 3; this is case sensitive.

2. Case Study Narrative

Students should complete as many sections of the narratives template as possible. In some cases, the number of template sections that can be completed may be limited by the amount of information available on the geothermal area under study. This will be taken into consideration during final evaluation of the narratives.

3. Data Tables

Students should populate and maintain tables of information relevant to the geothermal resource area under study throughout the research process using the Data Tables Template. The number of data fields that can be populated in the template may be limited depending on the information available for the geothermal area under study, and will be taken into consideration during final evaluation of the narratives.

4. Exploration Activity Table

A complete list of exploration activities applied at the case study location during discovery, evaluation, and production of the geothermal resource should be compiled using the Exploration Activities Template. At minimum, students should populate the Technique, Exploration Activity End Date, Place, Notes, and Outcome columns of the spreadsheet for each activity entry. Individual activities should include at least one designated Reference Material entry, although multiple references may be included for a single activity where considerable overlap occurs between published studies in applying a technique or analyzing data.

5. Folder of Figures

In addition to the completed templates, submissions should include a folder with any relevant figures to be uploaded to OpenEI with the final report. Geothermal Case Study Narrative templates should include references to individual figures in the text, in addition to figure captions consisting of a brief description of each figure and a citation of the original source material.

6. Formatted Case Study Page on OpenEI

In addition to submitting supporting documents to NREL, students will upload their completed case studies to OpenEI at the end of the 2014 Spring semester. Case study narratives should be formatted to display correctly on OpenEI using MediaWiki syntax, as described in the How To-Students section of the project overview. Tables and activity entries for each case study should also be entered following the format used in the Data Tables and Exploration Activities templates. Instructions for formatting case studies for input into OpenEI can be found below:
Entering Information into OpenEI:
To Start
1. First go to the website
2. Create an OpenEI account.
3. Find the page for your geothermal area:
4. Click on Edit with form at the top of the page.
5. There are six tabs; the first three are where information for the data tables is entered, the last three are where narratives are entered.
6. After information has been entered into the fields, scroll to the bottom and write a brief description of the edits that have been made in the edit history box.
7. Next press show preview and review the page.
8. Once everything looks good scroll back to the bottom and press save page.
Note: use the templates provided while working on the project, then when final drafts have been completed copy and paste the information from the template into the website. When pasting information into OpenEI use a google chrome browser so that you can “Paste as plain text” (Windows) or “Paste and match style” (Mac OSX) to avoid any errors that may occur due to special text and character formatting.

Adding Images
1. To add an image, scroll to the bottom of any OpenEI page and click Upload File.
2. On the next page click Choose file, and select the image you want to upload.
3. Take note of the destination file name. The destination file name needs to match exactly in the syntax for displaying the image. Figure captions in the narratives should be formatted with the correct syntax for calling up the images.
4. Write a summary for the image, remembering to reference the source material.
5. Click upload file at the bottom of the page.
6. Once the file is uploaded onto OpenEI, the image can be called up within the narrative by using the proper syntax. Syntax instructions and examples are found here It would also be beneficial to go to one of the existing case studies, click edit with form, and see how the syntax for images has been entered there.

Adding Links
OpenEI is a large database, and it is beneficial to create internal links to existing pages when possible. When referring to another geothermal area, region, technique, etc., anything that has an existing page can be linked by entering the page title in double brackets. For example writing
[[Coso Geothermal Area]]
will create a clickable link that will take you to the Coso Geothermal Area webpage. See

A list of OpenEI help pages such as formatting, creating tables, creating links, etc., can be found on the following page:

7. Professor Score Sheet

Professors will submit a case study assessment form to NREL at the end of the 2014 spring semester. Professors will evaluate each case study based on the same criteria that will be used during final judging of each report. Professor evaluation forms should include the name of the geothermal resource area, the name(s) of all students who contributed to the case study, and professor feedback as per the individual sections of the evaluation form.

Examples of Completed Case Studies

Fourteen case studies have been completed so far—please review some of them to gain an idea of how the finalized product should look: