Big Oil Invests In Geothermal Energy Breakthrough

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When you are seeking long lasting always available renewable energy the most logical is barely mentioned compared to the huge attention paid to the unreliable intermittent renewables that have short lives.  This is irrational but that is the esence of  the proposals for the future of energy production.  Solar at best provides power only for a few hours a day and can be offline due to clouds or snow for days.  Solar power production is half as much peak power in winter with far shorter useful power delivery time as well.  Geothermal heat lasts forever and the equipment lasts far longer than solar panels or wind turbines.  The article below talks of some breakthroughs in Geothermal that may make it less expensive and easier to adopt more widely.  It may seem ridiculous if you are concerned about climate to invest in a big oil company but their investment in this new technology may be a great thing.  Believe it or not but the current administration’s attack on the domestic oil industry may really benefit international oil companies as well due to falling production in America leading to no surplus and higher prices.  We need to make improving geothermal and being willing to pay a little extra to have reliable power that works in all weather conditions.  Geothermal installations can provide both electricity and heat which would have been welcome in Texas during the winter storm.  We must get real about energy and not fall for the marketing pitch of the solar industry that its power is anything but what it is intermittent and unreliable needing full backup from natural gas power plants.

 

“BP and Chevron, this Tuesday, announced plans to invest heavily in geothermal energy through a new innovative start up. The new technology introduced by Canadian startup Eavor, pronounced “ever”, provides a clean energy source directly from the earth’s heat. BP and Chevron have made a $40 million investment in Calgary-based Eavor, bucking the trend by developing a largely overlooked energy source. Funding goes mainly towards the research and development of geothermal power. 

 

Senior vice president of zero carbon energy at BP, Felipe Arbelaez, states “Technology such as Eavor’s has the potential to deliver geothermal power and heat and help unlock a low carbon future.”. Further explaining, “Eavor has developed a new type of geothermal technology that, in very simple terms, creates an underground “radiator.””. The new technology, named ‘loop’, provides a closed-loop network of pipes which is installed between 3 to 4 km underground, linked to an aboveground facility. Liquid is able to travel in the pipes from the facility, through the hot underground environment, then back to surface level where it is converted into electricity. The flow of this liquid can be controlled to manage output. 

Unlike batteries, solar or wind power, this geothermal technology allows for a constant flow of power that does not rely on challenges such as weather conditions. Further, the technology can fit into existing energy production areas such as underneath solar farms, to combat space constraints. Until now, geothermal energy had accounted for less than 0.3 percent of the world’s energy due to its high-risk nature. However, the risks taken to invest in the geothermal power technologies of the 1980s and 90s are no longer an issue when using Eavor’s closed-loop structure.Eavor’s system is ground-breaking as is significantly cheaper and more environmentally friendly than traditional geothermal technology. It does not rely on fracking methods to put the system in place and does need specific underground hot water sources to tap into geothermal energy.

Related: Oil Prices Soar As U.S. Oil Production Plunges 30%

In addition, the geothermal technology releases zero carbon emissions, offering oil and gas companies a means to fulfil the increasingly common aim of net-carbon-zero within the next one to three decades. This represents BP’s first investment into geothermal power, and Chevron’s return to the market, having sold its geothermal assets in 2016. It is the first investment by oil majors into Eavor’s system, which previously only accepted angel and venture capital investment. 

The new geothermal technology could be the Zero-Emitting Load-Following Resource (ZELFR) the oil and gas industry has been waiting for. Thanks to its low-cost installation, constant energy supply and minimal space requirements, it could prove to be the green energy that governments and regulators have been calling for. As well as providing constant energy, the most promising part of this system is that the underground heat providing geothermal energy will not run out, making it a safer bet than the finite resources we currently use. Despite being largely overlooked until now, the new technology could harness the power of this untapped resource. “

By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com