EAVOR-LASTING POWER::


The Man Who Could Finally Solve the Geothermal Puzzle: The huge potential of geothermal energy to meet the climate and energy crises has always been outweighed by its problems. With Eavor, John Redfern believes he’s found the solution. (JOSH SIMS, December 7, 2023, Inside Hook


Their idea is deceptively simple. Traditional geothermal technology has to target an aquifer, and then use a form of fracking, forcing water into and then out of the very hot permeable rock underground, creating steam to drive a turbine to generate electricity, but losing about 50% of the energy in the pumping process.

Instead, Eavor’s plan is to drill two eight-inch-wide wells down several miles, then drill laterally some more miles and connect them, thus making a huge closed loop. Then, through conduction, they’ll let the water flow through it, the large surface area of the bores being super-heated by the surrounding rock. That’s one loop of maybe 10 loops in a major plant.

“It’s just like a big radiator,” as Redfern describes it, making the hard-to-do sound very simple.

In another sense, he says, it’s the reverse of one of the oil industry’s ways of extracting oil sands, in which drilled wells allow heat to be injected underground to loosen the sands and allow the oil to be removed.

Eavor’s “closed-loop’ system — the Eavor-Loop — has been working towards full-scale operation for a few years. The company launched Eavor Lite, a small-scale proof-of-concept plant in 2019, and followed that with Eavor Deep in New Mexico late last year, which proved the technology could be used in, for example, granite rock and super-high temperatures, environments that the traditional oil and gas industry avoid.

Now, among several Eavor projects in the works, the most advanced is a $325 million Eavor-Loop under construction in Bavaria, Germany, on the site of a decommissioned power plant and funded in part by a grant from the EU Innovation Fund. Drilling began this July, and it’s expected to take three years to produce four loops — amounting to 150 miles of wells in total, 2.5 miles deep and coping with temperatures around 302 degrees Fahrenheit — though power is expected to come online in October 2024 when the first loop is complete. With that, Eavor expects its idea to be commercially proven.

“That’s a lot of drilling,” notes Redfern. “Never since Bruce Willis and Armageddon has there been the potential for the world to be saved by a bunch of drillers drilling holes.”

Drill, baby, drill.

WHAT ABOUT…DAYS WHEN THE CORE IS COOL?:

Google switches on first-of-its-kind advanced geothermal project (Loz Blain, November 28, 2023, New Atlas)

[T]he idea is to do for geothermal what fracking did for oil and gas, opening up resources that would otherwise be inaccessible. The company does this by drilling horizontally into deep rock, then injecting pressurized fluid to fracture the rock, creating the kind of fractured, permeable rock you need to harvest geothermal heat energy.


It’s a technique Fervo says can also help get a lot more out of an existing resource, and it radically reduces one of the biggest risks in geothermal energy: the risk of drilling way down into subterranean resources and finding they’re not usable.

The Nevada plant makes a constant 3.4 megawatts of energy, bringing water up from 3,250-ft-long (990-m) horizontal bores some 8,000 ft (2,440 m) below the surface, at temperatures up to 191 °C (376 °F).

…AND CHEAPER…:

Arizona solar canal project aims to save water while making power (Loz Blain, November 23, 2023, New Atlas)

Not only will the solar panels generate up to one megawatt of power for the Gila River Indian Community, they’ll also provide shade for the water below, helping keep water in the canals rather than letting the baking desert heat evaporate it away. Viewed as a solar farm, it should be considerably cheaper, since no land needs to be acquired.


Furthermore, the water will help cool the panels, increasing their efficiency and creating a ~3% boost to power production, according to Professor Roger Bales, who wrote about the California project for The Conversation in 2022. In a study published in 2021, Bales and his team argued that “covering all 4,000 miles of California’s canals with solar panels would save more than 65 billion gallons of water annually by reducing evaporation,” while generating up to 13 GW of renewable energy in a distributed fashion that could cut down on transmission losses.

HATING GREENS WON’T SAVE GAS:

Case for gas as transition fuel falling apart on both economic and environmental costs (Rachel Williamson, 27 November 2023, Renew Economy)

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility​ (ACCR) today released financial modelling that shows Australia’s LNG projects did not generate value for shareholders.

The report, “Australia’s LNG growth wave – did it wash for shareholders?” analysed returns from Woodside’s Pluto project, Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone projects, the three east coast LNG plants supplied by coal seam gas, Inpex’s Ichthys project and Shell’s Prelude.

It found these projects collectively eroded $US19 billion of shareholder value by requiring extra investment for running 35 per cent over budget and behind schedule, according to data from Rystad.

Only Gorgon has delivered a positive return to shareholders – the report did not specific how much but says it has achieved an estimated 10 per cent Internal Rate of Return.

Across the LNG industry, cost overruns and delays will see the industry deliver a negative $US1.8 billion return to shareholders, compared to

None of the projects are delivering returns that meet the cost of capital – even in the boom times, says ACCR lead analyst Alex Hillman.

HATING GREENS DOESN’T STOP THE WIND AND THE SUN:

Offshore wind is at a crossroads. Here’s what you need to know. (Heather Richards, 11/13/2023, E&E News)

[B]oth analysts and developers remain confident that this period of instability could also reset the offshore wind sector and refocus policy priorities on building an industry and supply chain that’s sustainable.

“We need to slow down a little bit in our growth,” Jan Matthiesen, director of offshore wind for the research and consultancy group Carbon Trust, said at the Turn Forward press briefing. “Give the supply chain some room to actually breathe and catch up.”

With U.S. offshore wind at a crossroads, here’s four questions answered.

Why are only some projects in trouble?
While it’s clear the entire offshore wind industry is facing significant headwinds, the impacts haven’t been equally felt.

A slew of projects have broadcast their vulnerability. In addition to the now-canceled Ocean Wind project, New York’s Beacon Wind, Empire Wind 1 and 2, and Sunrise Wind are on the ropes. Two Massachusetts projects, SouthCoast Wind and Commonwealth Wind, are paying million-dollar penalties to break contracts with utilities with plans to rebid in future state solicitations.

“It’s largely an issue of timing,” explained Tim Fox, a research analyst with ClearView Energy Partners. “Projects that bid into solicitations before macroeconomic factors arrived, but then had to secure contracts amid high interest rates and inflation, face serious headwinds.”

Some projects are barreling forward — like Vineyard Wind, a joint project of Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners off the coast of Massachusetts. The first large project permitted in the U.S., Vineyard is under construction with full operations beginning by next year. South Fork Wind, an Ørsted project off the coast of Rhode Island that will power New York, may go live even sooner.

A similar spirit of confidence is occurring in Virginia, where the utility Dominion Energy said last week that its 176-turbine Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project is on schedule. Monopile foundations have already been delivered.

The troubles thrashing some offshore wind projects highlight some of the benefits that Virginia’s project uniquely enjoys.

It is the only project being developed in the U.S. solely by a regulated utility. Richmond-based Dominion is a monopoly in Virginia, though it also has customers across 14 other states.

That means its investments are paid for by electric consumers, with utility regulators approving a return on the investment as profit. Dominion has already fought, and won, for its right to proceed with a project that is costing roughly $2 billion more than it had planned.

“Dominion’s smart strategy has helped it avoid the same issues faced by its competitors. They are the off taker — they are able to pass on cost increases to consumers,” said Atin Jain, wind analyst at BloombergNEF.

He noted that Dominion secured supply deals with turbine manufacturers in 2021, before inflation drove up costs. The Coastal Virginia project will also be “huge,” with a capacity of 2.6 GW, enabling the company to benefit from economies of scale.

The project, which got final approval from the Interior Department last month, is also building its own ship, the Charybdis, to install its turbines.

Expected to be complete by early 2025, the $650 million vessel means the utility won’t have to fight with other developers over a limited number of installation vessels, said Søren Lassen, head of offshore wind research at Wood Mackenzie. Plus, Dominion will be able to pay off some of its investment in the ship by leasing the vessel out to other U.S. projects, he said.