The Emerging Era of Geothermal: A deep dive into the past, present, and future of geothermal

The term ‘geothermal energy’ is appearing in news headlines and press releases with greater and greater frequency as nations around the world race to open doors for renewable resources. The good news: the geothermal industry is rife with innovation and real-time developments. The bad news? Conversations about the industry don’t often reach beyond the borders of the energy world.

But entrepreneurial writer Yasmeen Naseer is trying to change that. With a multi-part series in the works, Naseer has used her first four articles in the series to break those niche barriers and inform the general public about the exciting and promising new developments in the world of next-generation geothermal.

In part 1, entitled “Geothermal Energy is Gaining Traction – Origin,” Naseer explains the science behind how subterranean heat is formed, down to the molecular level. She also dives into the reasoning behind why certain areas of the world, such as Iceland and states like California have thriving geothermal sectors, while others do not.

Part 2 focuses on the “Harvest,”, also known as extraction: the process of moving the heat stored underground to the surface so it can be used for a variety of purposes.

Naseer details the different methods of geothermal extraction, such as: dry steam power plants, which tap into pockets of steam stored under the Earth’s surface in order to generate electricity; flash steam power plants, where hot water is converted to steam, which in turn spins turbines to create power; and finally binary cycle power plants where hot water is used to heat a substance with a low boiling point, which in turn releases steam and moves a turbine to create electricity.

Eavor utilizes the advanced technology present in binary cycle methods with their proprietary Eavor-Loop™ technology. The author mentions Eavor by name, dubbing them (not for the first time) an industry leader in producing closed-loop systems. However, she does classify the next-generation Eavor-Loop™ as reliant on underground water reservoirs. While the Eavor-Loop™ does utilize water, what sets this proprietary system apart is that it does not rely on rare subterranean conditions.

Acting like a giant underground radiator, the Eavor-Loop™ pulls heat from dry rock via conduction. In addition to their revolutionary Rock-Pipe™ well-sealing technology, Eavor has utilized expertise from the oil and gas industry to advance their geothermal systems to a truly scalable, baseload, and green energy source not limited like traditional geothermal.

The third article in the series focuses on the pros and cons of geothermal. Here, she details the versatility of the renewable energy source, citing a wide range of applications from single dwellings to entire communities or industries. Another pro listed by Naseer is the LCOE of geothermal compared to other energy sources – although geothermal development has high up-front costs, the long-term operational costs are much lower compared to fossil fuels and even other renewable plants.

The keystone article of her series looks at how Eavor has the potential to revolutionize the entire geothermal industry. Designed to bypass the traditional limitations of enhanced geothermal systems such as rare geologic conditions or high risk of environmental impacts like increased seismic activity and groundwater pollution, the Eavor-Loop™ is poised to rewrite the rules of the geothermal industry.

Eavor is not the only geothermal company pursuing Advanced Geothermal Systems and making use of closed-loop well designs. But its undeniable success seen at the Derek Riddell Eavor-Lite™ demonstration project in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, speaks to the momentum behind its exponential market growth, resulting in a PPA in Nevada, a commercial-scale project in Bavaria, Germany, and over $100 million CAD in venture capital investments from the likes of BP, Chevron, and Deep Energy Capital. In a short 5 years, Eavor has proven itself as a category leader in an age-old industry.

You can visit Naseer’s profile on Medium’s Data Driven Investor to read her series on geothermal in full, and subscribe to be notified when Naseer publishes more on renewable energy, technology, and business.

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