Typically, fossil fuels come to mind when we consider delving beneath the Earth’s surface for energy. However, a U.S.-based business called Quaise Energy is developing a method of drilling that would truly harness renewable energy.
The business is working on the technology needed to drill ten miles beneath the surface of the planet to extract the geothermal energy that is there.
According to Science Communications, Quaise Energy co-founder and project management House said during a talk at the TEDx Boston Planetary Stewardship event on November 13 and 14 that the total energy content of the heat stored underground exceeds our annual energy demand as a planet by a factor of a billion. So even a small portion of that can provide us with all the energy we’ll need in the near future.
According to National Geographic, geothermal energy refers to the energy held as heat beneath the Earth’s crust. The memory of the friction and gravitational pull of Earth’s formation, as well as the continuous radioactive isotope decay, heat the Earth as it moves closer to its core.
This heat can occasionally leave the earth naturally through geysers, hot springs, or steam vents. According to the National Energy Authority, Iceland has so much heated subsurface water that it is able to obtain 66 percent of its primary energy from geothermal sources.
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However, the majority of the globe needs to delve a little further, and this is where Quaise Energy comes in. The sweet spot, where temperatures are around 500 degrees Celsius high enough to repower fossil fuel plants and speed the energy transition, is reaching a distance of 20 kilometers (around 12 miles).
Since humans can get geothermal energy everywhere on Earth at these depths, it is a truly global source of energy. According to the company’s website, it offers a way for every country to achieve energy independence.
According to The Independent, the Kola borehole in the Arctic Circle, which extends down 12.2 kilometers (around 7.6 miles), was the deepest hole on record up until this point. The Soviet Union spent more than 20 years on this project.
According to Science Communications, Houde stated at TEDx Boston that “the truth is, we ll need hundreds, if not thousands, of Kola boreholes if we want to expand geothermal to the capacity that’s needed.”
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According to Electrek, Quaise Energy is advancing technology created by MIT researchers over the previous 15 years to employ millimeter waves, which are akin to microwaves, to first melt and then evaporate rock. This technique has been utilized by scientists to drill into basalt. Quaise’s strategy is to bore through the surface rock using traditional drilling technology created by the fossil fuel sector before switching to millimeter waves for the so-called basement rock.
This particular renewable technology has the benefit of providing an integrated just transition for qualified oil and gas workers.
Houde referred to it as the ideal energy source to capitalize on the oil and gas sector’s 11 million American jobs, which now has the greatest workforce in the world.
Drilling is not currently feasible for Quaise Energy. The company needs to find out more about how deeper rocks behave, scale up production of the gyrotron that produces millimeter waves, and figure out how to get rid of the ash that accumulates during drilling. According to The Independent, it has so far raised more than $63 million to implement its concept.
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According to Science Communications, Houde stated at TEDx Boston, “Our current objective is to drill the first holes in the field in the next few years.” Additionally, we will investigate our first industrial geothermal projects in shallower environments while also developing the capability to go deeper.