Deep drilling delivers the power

It’s back to baseload as geothermal energy comes on stream

There’s an almost infinite amount of heat energy below the planet’s surface. We’ve seen enough pictures of molten lava spewing out of volcanoes to appreciate the power that heat can generate, and countries like Iceland have been converting geothermal energy into electricity for ages. It’s the ultimate form of clean, green energy, but only available in special places in the world.

Until now. Quaise Energy has developed a method of drilling deep enough to unlock that energy almost anywhere on Earth. Using a combination of traditional drilling and plasma boring to vaporize the bedrock, the deepest boreholes in the world are delivering superheated water to a 100MW power plant in the US. The next step is to replicate this success at other locations.

Once the Quaise technology has been proven beyond doubt, thousands of coal-fired power stations that faced being shut down over climate concerns can simply switch to clean geothermal energy to run their turbines, and never burn a single lump of coal again. That would make them cheaper to run than solar or wind power plants, with no need for massive tracts of land covered in panels or giant turbines. There’s also no need for batteries or storage solutions, as the geothermal energy source is constantly available.

Retrofitting existing fossil fuel power plants has another advantage, as they are already connected to the grid. Besides making a massive impact on carbon emissions, the new borehole technology will save billions on new infrastructure, while threatening to disrupt not only coal and gas, but alternative energy industries like solar, batteries and carbon capture systems. And nuclear power is just too costly.

It’s back to baseload, and centralized, monolithic power utilities. Micro grids and distributed generation projects will only be viable for remote locations, and energy abundance will drive a new economic boom.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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