To answer this question it is necessary to look at the sources which we walk on. From the volume perspective, only 1 % of the Earth is colder than 1000°C and 0.1 % is colder than 100°C. This amount of energy is available continuously 24/7 without any carbon dioxide or other pollution and practically not exhaustible. Heat under the Earth’s surface is still permanently produced in the Earth’s volume by decay of uranium, thorium, etc. For effective geothermal electricity production, there is a need to drill between 8-10 km in hard rock, where the temperatures almost anywhere in the world exceed 300°C, optimal for steam turbines and high enthalpy heat production.
Research and development in emerging drilling technologies is aimed on effective deep drilling in hard rocks with the price linear with the depth, which is significant advancement in drilling technology. This enables to exploit geothermal energy practically anywhere in the world independent of the local geological situation. The most promising solutions are drilling systems based on thermal treatment on rocks. These systems provide cost effective and high speed drilling optimized for the hard rock environment. The technologies are oriented towards creation of power generation units ranging between 20 MW to 30 MW per unit, where drilling costs are expected to be less than $1M per drilled km. The main aim of the technology is to bring the position of the geothermal energy in the world energy mix to its real potential as base load energy and real alternative to coal, oil & gas and nuclear, by RADICAL change through cost effective deep drilling.
Change of the strategy and paradigm of energy production:
Change of the strategy and paradigm of energy production:
- Substantial contribution of geothermal energy to climate change mitigations. Energy distributed production to geographic localities where energy is needed and not where resources are available. It provides minimum transport losses in contrast to present day grids, high security against the collapse of energy systems and security against terrorist attacks.
- Affordability for developing nations, because the source of the energy the “fuel” is available anywhere.
- Small footprint of geothermal energy production sites not harming the country environment in contrast to wind farms and photovoltaic large area fields.
- Safety of the processes compared to nuclear energy.
The emerging drilling systems are enabling technologies for future development of strategically important application areas as follows:
- Accessing new reservoirs of oil and gas - In recent decades new deep underground reservoirs that require significant advance in drilling technologies were discovered. One of the main innovations of emerging drilling systems based on thermal approach is the ability to produce continuous casing while drilling. Casing is created synchronously with the drilling process immediately in the drilling bit zone ensuring sealing and mechanical stability of the well all the time also in difficult conditions. This is a key factor in onshore, but even more considerable in offshore drilling with game-changing cost reduction. Moreover it reduces need for Shale Gas extraction and other methods with negative environmental impact.
- Deep hidden water reservoirs and possible desalination on continents - Water wells in regions with limited access to drinking water but with rich sources of deep water reservoirs. Another utilization are geothermal wells for power generation aimed at desalination. Main targets areas are Africa, West and central Asia and Australia.
- Centers of prosperity - Geothermal heat cascade exploitation economy around each geothermal power generation complex, creation of new jobs and local autonomous economies. The cascade consists of hydrogen production, electricity production, lumber drying, direct building heating and cooling, biotechnology reactors, greenhouses, aquaculture, fisheries, wellness, geothermal heat pumps, etc. For development of such prosperity centers, the franchising concept could be applied.
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Geothermal electric plants were traditionally built exclusively on the edges of tectonic plates where high temperature geothermal resources are available near the surface. The development of binary cycle power plants and improvements in drilling and extraction technology enable enhanced geothermal systems over a much greater geographical range. Demonstration projects are operational in Landau-Pfalz, Germany, and Soultz-sous-Forêts, France, while an earlier effort in Basel, Switzerland was shut down after it triggered earthquakes. Other demonstration projects are under construction in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
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