A recent feature article in Time Magazine’s CO2 Futures series showcased the growing discussion around next-generation geothermal technologies, and how there’s a growing necessity to implement oil and gas expertise to rapidly scale geothermal energy.
The article indicates that this necessity is born from limitations that have historically held geothermal back from being a viable baseload alternative to fossil fuels. Traditionally, geothermal power has proven cost-effective in regions with hot rocks close to the earth’s surface, such as the edge of the continental plate in California. Yet, this geographical niche has confined geothermal to a minor role in decarbonization efforts, constituting only 1.6 percent of the United States’ energy mix.
Nevertheless, the article highlights that next-generation geothermal companies like Eavor are transforming the narrative, igniting a thought-provoking conversation about how to make this technology more widespread.
Karin Kleinhaus, director at the Environmental Defense Fund, argues that there are likely no experts who are better positioned to champion innovative geothermal technologies than oil companies and industry veterans.
“[Drilling] in the subsurface… they are the masters. They know that better than anyone else; oil and gas,” said Kleinhaus in a video interview with Time.
Last July, Kleinhaus wrote an opinion piece, in collaboration with Andrew Howell, for Utility Dive to explain why drilling expertise is the bridge between oil and gas and geothermal. They propose that large oil and gas operators can bring technological expertise, a skilled workforce, and access to capital. Furthermore, they explain that many startups in North America are already staffed, if not founded, by ex-oil industry employees.
Eavor is one of those companies. Many of the company’s staff started their careers in oil and gas, then transitioned almost seamlessly to geothermal, as they were able to repurpose their drilling and geoscience expertise to building Eavor-Loops™.
Moreover, Eavor has generated multiple milestone investments from prominent players in the oil and gas industry, including OMV, bp, and Chevron. As some oil companies contemplate extending their extraction activities, the article states that they are also exploring avenues to cut emissions, with technologies like the Eavor-Loop™ emerging as a strategic choice.
Geothermal’s potential is a widespread, cost-effective alternative that is gaining momentum, according to the article. As industry professionals and geothermal startups converge, the collaborative efforts of oil companies and geothermal innovators may prove to be the catalyst for transforming the energy ecosystem.