Geothermal provides 0.4% of the world’s energy today, but could provide up to 50% of the world’s energy by 2050, according to Carlos Araque, founder and CEO of Quaise Energy, who made that prediction at the SOSV Climate Tech Summit of 2022. last week during a panel discussion called, “Is this the geothermal moment?”
Great Geothermal Effect
Quaise is developing a drilling method pioneered at MIT to access hot rock about two to 12 miles below the Earth’s surface. Araque is joined by Kathy Hannun, founder and president of residential US geothermal company Dandelion Energy. The Dandelion system uses established technology that doesn’t require digging that deep.
Araque and Hannun went on to outline not only the biggest obstacles to scaling their global business but also other geothermal problems that “people are itching to solve,” according to moderator Candice Ammori, founder of Climate Vine, who advises. the introduction of climate technology.
First, though, these two explain why geothermal can have an impact. In addition to being clean and universal, geothermal provides a basic energy source that is available 24/7. It is also “the most powerful and abundant renewable resource on Earth,” Araque said, “far more than wind, solar, nuclear, and all fossil fuels combined.”
In addition, Araque said, it is important to measure the energy source with its impact on external factors such as the environment, land use, and mineral consumption:
When you look at the [problem] from this lens – the amount of land use per unit of energy you produce, the amount of material needed per unit of energy, and how much carbon dioxide you produce per unit of energy – you begin to understand that geothermal is out of the way, before anything else. anything else.
Obstacles and solutions
Fully tapping the resource, however, will be costly and time-consuming. Araque continues:
It is very difficult to achieve anything in our area with a million dollars or 10 million dollars.
You should start playing at the 100 million dollar level or at the 1 billion dollar level. How much does it cost to get it [deep geothermal] developed and deployed at portfolio levels.
Furthermore, the Quaise technology involved in dredging has been demonstrated in the lab but not yet in the field. And that will take time.
However, Araque said that by the end of the decade, Quaise aims to create electricity from coal or gas converted to geothermal:
It uses geothermal steam instead of steam from a fossil boiler. That in a brushstroke releases the energy plant, and you can repeat that 10,000 times with other plants.
The key to making deep geothermal a reality? “You use oil and gas in the industry,” said Araque, who comes from fossil fuels. “I think of them as a ready-made workforce, supply chain, and management framework that can push into the world at scale.”
Hannun noted that at Dandelion, simplifying complexity will be key to reducing the costs associated with using geothermal heating and cooling for residential homes:
It is difficult to advance our building stock and replace all existing buildings [to geothermal because] they are all slightly different and there is a lot of complexity to manage. So most of us focus on doing geothermal [heat pumps] It’s as easy to get into homes as it is to install a furnace or air conditioner.
It is possible for entrepreneurs
Ammori concluded the session by asking Hannun and Araque about the remaining geothermal challenges that other entrepreneurs may face. Both agreed that better underground imaging systems are essential. In deep geothermal, Araque said there is a need for electronics that can withstand the high temperatures associated with the source. Hannun noted that anything related to the climate of homes will help the geothermal heat and cooling industry.
He also emphasized that in both his and Araque’s businesses:
I would encourage entrepreneurs to not only look at the core core technology, but also the enabling technologies, products, or businesses around licensing, licensing and distribution. There are [many] things in an ecosystem that need to happen to scale.
Araque concludes by noting that the power transition itself is an unsolved problem:
Never mind that it’s just a matter of measuring what we have. There is a lot of room for innovation. This is the biggest challenge for many generations, not only ours, and we need all people in this problem.
Read more: Question 10: Geothermal and Dandelion Energy founder Kathy Hannun
Photo: Gretar Ívarsson, geologist at Nesjavellir/edited by Fir0002/Public Domain
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