Via a Canadian startup called Eavor (pronounced “ever”), BP and Chevron have made US$40 million investment in geothermal energy. The financing goes mostly to geothermal power research and development. The startup uses new technology that provides a renewable energy source directly from the heat of the earth, a source of energy that is widely ignored.
This investment marks BP’s first geothermal power investment and Chevron’s return to the market, having sold its geothermal assets in 2016. It is the first investment into Eavor’s scheme by oil majors, which previously welcomed only angel and venture capital investment.
A closed-loop network of pipes, installed between 3 to 4 km underground, linked to an aboveground facility, is provided by the new technology, called ‘loop’. The liquid can travel through the hot underground environment in the pipes from the facility, then back to the surface level where it is converted into electricity. To manage output, the flow of this liquid can be controlled.
Until now, due to its high-risk nature, geothermal energy accounted for less than 0.3 per cent of the world’s energy. However, when using Eavor’s closed-loop structure, the risk factors considered to invest in the geothermal power technologies of the 1980s and 90s are no longer a concern.
In a statement, BP’s senior vice president of zero-carbon energy, Felipe Arbelaez, said, Eavor’s technology can produce geothermal power and heat. Also, it will create a future that emits low carbon. The geothermal technology that the startup has created is new and, as Arbelaez put it, “creates an underground “radiator”.
Unlike batteries, solar or wind power, this geothermal technology allows for a constant power flow that does not rely on challenges such as weather conditions. Also, to combat space constraints, the technology can fit into existing energy production areas, such as underneath solar farms.
The Eavor system is captivating as it is generally more affordable and more environmentally sustainable than conventional geothermal technology. To put the system in place, it does not rely on hydraulic fracturing methods and must have subterranean hot water sources to leverage into geothermal power.
Moreover, geothermal technology emits zero carbon emissions, providing oil and gas firms with the means to reach zero-net carbon’s increasingly common goal within the next one or three decades.
The Zero-Emitting Load-Following Resource (ZELFR) that the oil and gas industry has been waiting for may be the latest geothermal technology. Thanks to its low-cost installation, constant energy supply, and limited space requirements, it could prove to be the renewable energy that policymakers and regulators have been calling for.The most exciting aspect of this method and supplying continuous energy is that the underground heat providing geothermal energy will not run out, making it a better bet than the scarce resources we are currently using. The new technologies could harness the power of this untapped resource, despite being largely ignored until now.