July 13, 2020
New Twist On Geothermal With Roots In Canadian Oilpatch Set To Spread Worldwide Part 1 - Introduction
A fantastic article posted on the Daily Oil Bulletin written by Maurice Smith, which can be found in full here - Link.
The full article is quite long, so we’ve broken it down by section for you, we’ll post a new section each day.
This is part of an ongoing DOB series, titled “New Directions, New Possibilities,” which examines energy innovation, sustainability challenges and opportunities. Previous articles looked at petrolithium development (Link) and how Alberta start-ups are in a global race to grab a piece of the booming lithium supply chain (Link).
In searching for the next breakthrough in geothermal energy, Royal Dutch Shell plc came up with a top ten list of what was holding geothermal energy back. As a clean source of baseload power and heat, geothermal has the unique ability to ll the intermittency gap left by those other clean sources of power — wind and solar. But unlike those sources — which have undergone exponential growth — geothermal has failed to launch in a significant way.
But that may be about to change. New technologies and techniques being applied to new geothermal systems — often transferred from the oil and gas industry — combined with the increasing urgency to decarbonize power and heating are leading to a surge in interest in harvesting the Earth’s subsurface heat energy.
A Calgary-based startup is in the forefront of the charge. By honing an entirely new way to harness the heat of the Earth, Eavor Technologies Inc. could provide the type of game-changer the industry is looking for. (The company’s technology was named a champion (Link) last month in the DOB’s Energy ExcellenceAwards.)
Leveraging leading-edge oil and gas drilling technology, Eavor (pronounced “Ever”) has created a means to access geothermal power — typically limited to areas containing accessible volcanic like temperatures — almost anywhere. Its closed-loop system, known as the Eavor-Loop, does not rely on the need to find suitable underground reservoirs. In fact, the conductive process does not interact with underground reservoirs at all.
Initially unaware of Shell’s list, Eavor now believes it has solved all 10 challenges. After its technology was developed, “we looked at the 10 and realized, the thing we just did [to develop Eavor-Loop was to] solve all 10 of those supposedly intractable problems,” said John Redfern, Eavor president and CEO.
“And that’s when we said, what we have here is something more than a solution to what can we do with a bunch of unusable [for geothermal] sites. It’s like the holy grail of power. This is what people are looking for — something that’s scalable, green and not intermittent. As desirable as that niche is, no one’s really been able to ll it.”
Shell seems to largely agree. The oil major became involved early on and continues to work with Eavor to commercialize the technology, primarily in Europe. “We recognized that Eavor-Loop, and its unique conduction-only closed-loop design had the potential to address many of these [top 10] concerns. That is why we’re supporting Eavor and their Eavor-Lite demonstration project,” said Malcolm Ross, the geothermal focus leader in the Shell New Energies Research & Technology team, who goes by the title Black Swan Detector in New Energies.