Carlos Araque of Quaise Energy made these comments during a panel discussion titled, “Is this the geothermal moment?” Quaise is developing a unique drilling method to access hot rock about two to 12 miles below the Earth’s surface.
Araque was joined by Kathy Hannun, founder and president of Dandelion Energy, a company that works on a different “flavor” of geothermal, or using it to heat and cool homes today. The Dandelion system uses established technology that doesn’t require digging that deep.
I didn’t know much about geothermal until I started diving [it] in this panel, “said Moderator Candice Ammori, founder of Climate Vine, recommending the introduction of climate technology. “I am happy to say now that I believe in geothermal. I think there is a fair amount of hype… but I really think there should be more hype. “
Araque and Hannun went on to describe not only the biggest obstacles to scaling their business globally, but also what other geothermal problems they are “itching to solve,” according to Ammori.
First, however, these two explain why geothermal can be so important. In addition to being clean and universal, geothermal provides a basic energy source that is available 24/7, whether it’s cloudy or not. It’s also “the most powerful and abundant renewable on Earth,” Araque said, “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 [problem] from this lens – how much land is used to produce a unit of energy, 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 comes out way, way before anything. something else.”
Obstacles and solutions
Fully tapping the resource, however, will be very difficult and time-consuming. “It’s very difficult to achieve anything in our area with a million dollars or 10 million dollars,” Araque said. “You have to start playing at the $100 million level or the $1 billion level. [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 at the end of the decade Quaise aims to create electricity from coal or gas converted to geothermal. “You feed on geothermal steam instead of steam from a fossil-fuel boiler. That in a brushstroke gives the plant energy, and you can repeat that 10,000 times more than other plants.”
The key to making deep geothermal a reality? “You use oil and gas in the industry,” said Araque, who is from the industry. “I think of them as having the right workforce, supply chain, and management framework that can push this into the world at the level it needs to be.”
Hannun noted that for 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 put in a furnace or an air conditioner.”
Chamber of Commerce!
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 businesses and Araque, “I would encourage entrepreneurs to look not only at the core technology, but also at enabling technologies, products, or businesses around approvals, licenses and distribution. There [many] things in the ecosystem that need to happen to scale.”
Araque concluded by noting that the power transition itself is an unsolved problem. “Don’t think 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 just ours, and we need all people in the problem.”
-Elizabeth Thomson is the author of Quaise Energy