In the common global quest for sustainable and renewable energy sources, traditional oil and gas producers are beginning to focus on alternative sources. Geothermal is emerging as one of the most promising renewable energy sources globally, and over the coming years will become an essential component of the overall power market.
Power producers’ embrace of geothermal has long been in the works. Still, new advancements in drilling technology are making geothermal possible anywhere as a reliable, safe, and efficient baseload energy source.
Geothermal energy is derived from the Earth’s internal heat, which is continuously generated by the decay of radioactive isotopes in the planet’s core and from relict heat. Geothermal is a virtually inexhaustible power source, available 24/7, while creating a minimal environmental impact. Modern geothermal technology has significantly evolved over the last few years, enabling both the generation of electricity and for providing heating and cooling solutions in residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Successful geothermal operations in the U.S., Canada, Iceland, and Italy are providing clear evidence of the energy source’s feasibility and economic viability.
Breakthrough Technologies are Here
One of the key challenges in geothermal energy production has been accessing the Earth’s heat at viable depths. Traditional drilling technologies can only perform so well, and the process is limited by how deeply one can drill.
Many skills and technologies used in oil and gas extraction are transferable to geothermal energy production. This enables producers to leverage their existing expertise and workforce, easing the transition process and reducing the learning curve associated with entering this emerging renewable energy sector.
New technology layers on to enable new drilling depths, for new wells and also older wells that were previously defunct. New types of drilling systems include plasma drilling, a process that uses high-energy electric discharges to break up the hardest rocks deep underground. Plasma drilling, developed by GA Drilling, for example is just one form of innovation making it possible to reach greater depths and achieve temperatures efficiently, thus reducing cost and making geothermal accessible anywhere.
Benefits of Geothermal Energy
Accessing geothermal energy offers several advantages over procuring conventional fossil fuels and other renewable energy sources. Some of the key benefits of geothermal energy production include:
Abundant and Renewable: Geothermal energy is virtually unlimited and constantly replenished by the Earth’s natural processes, ensuring a continuous and stable energy supply. Additionally, geothermal energy production is not dependent on external fuel sources, making countries less reliant on imports and susceptible to supply disruptions. Geothermal power plants have a long operational life, typically lasting several decades. This ensures reliable energy generation for extended periods.
Strategic Global Investment: Oil and gas producers can contribute to a nation’s energy security by developing domestic geothermal resources. Unlike solar and wind energy, geothermal power generation is not dependent on weather conditions, providing a stable and consistent source of baseload electricity. Oil and gas producers can contribute to national energy security by developing domestic geothermal resources even within their current assets.
Low Carbon Emissions: The environmental impact of any energy production facility is important. Geothermal power plants emit minimal greenhouse gases, making them an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels and a significant contributor to combating climate change. Once in use, geothermal operations can produce vastquantities of energy—mainly because they can access “superhot” water, which holds between five and ten times the energy of steam at sea level.
Local Development: Geothermal projects often stimulate local economic development, creating jobs and fostering regional energy independence. Producers engage in dialogue with stakeholders, address concerns, and create shared value by supporting sustainable development initiatives and improving local infrastructure.
Geothermal: Energy with a Global Impact
As private and public companies, governments, and other stakeholders worldwide work to find ways to transition toward cleaner energy sources, geothermal energy will play a crucial role in the global energy mix. The adoption of geothermal energy aligns with many current international climate agreements, including the Paris Agreement.
As regulations surrounding carbon emissions and environmental impact become more stringent, companies proactively adopting the production of clean energy sources position themselves as responsible corporate citizens. Embracing geothermal energy can enhance a company’s reputation, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and reducing the risk of negative public perception.
As a truly renewable energy source, geothermal energy is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years. With each country that commits to reducing its carbon footprint and transitioning to cleaner energy sources, geothermal becomes an increasingly viable option.
Some experts estimate that, with continued advocacy and innovation, geothermal could be used to supply 12% or more of U.S. domestic energy needs by 2050. New drilling technology will continue to allow for reliable and sustainable solutions to be created to help meet the increasing energy demands while reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change.
As we continue our journey toward a greener future, geothermal energy will become a cornerstone of the global energy revolution, helping drive us toward a more sustainable and prosperous world.
—Igor Kocis is CEO and co-founder of GA Drilling.