Drill down far enough anywhere in the world and you reach temperatures hot enough to generate firm, reliable zero-emission electricity. That’s the hope for new geothermal technologies that could scale the industry beyond well-known geothermal hot spots like Iceland.
But first the industry needs to overcome major challenges in financing and technology. It has also to deal with the public opinion around the oil and gas industry, which may be an essential partner in scaling geothermal because of its overlapping expertise in drilling and underground exploration.
Current geothermal technology relies on naturally occurring underground hot spots, common in places like Iceland and the western U.S.. But an approach called enhanced geothermal systems or “hot, dry rock,” would make geothermal available around the world, potentially adding hundreds of gigawatts to current geothermal capacity.
Lara and Jamie discuss major questions facing the geothermal industry, like:
- How and where to drill for consistent hot temperatures?
- How long before a well is depleted of heat-carrying capacity?
- What sort of surveying and information do funders need to deal with exploration risks?
- How can the industry take advantage of the co-benefits of geothermal drilling, such as lithium extraction, carbon sequestration and waste heat?
- What working fluids, like water or critical CO2, are appropriate for a given project?
- How viable are geothermal-source heat pumps and how do they compare to air-source heat pumps?
- What are the potential environmental impacts of geothermal?
- What role should the oil and gas industry play in scaling this zero-emission technology?
- Canary Media: Advanced geothermal heats up with $138M round for startup Fervo Energy
- Department of Energy: DOE Launches New Energy Earthshot to Slash the Cost of Geothermal Power
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