Deep geothermal drilling could allow any country to become energy independent.
The dream of nuclear fusion as a source of unlimited clean energy is attracting vast amounts of investment around the world, but it's promise of salvation has been '10 years away' for a very long time. Now, a US company is proposing another clean energy solution; it's planning to dig the world’s deepest hole in order to tap an inexhaustible supply of geothermal energy from the Earth’s crust.
Quaise Energy has raised $63 million to bore a record-breaking 20km below the planet’s surface – nearly twice as far as the deepest holes ever made – where temperatures reach up to 500C.
Quaise Energy describes the project as a “necessity, not an option”, offering a source of energy that is as powerful as any fossil fuel and as clean as solar, wind or hydro. “Deep geothermal energy is at the core of an energy-independent world,” says the firm’s website.
“Our mission is to bring this inexhaustible, renewable, clean energy source to future generations. This is the profound power of deep geothermal. We are unlocking energy for all.”
Geothermal is one of the world’s oldest power sources harnessed by humans, but plants are currently built in areas of high tectonic activity where hot rocks are close to the surface.
In order to access the far more ubiquitous deep geothermal energy, Quaise Energy is developing a pioneering form of drilling known as millimetre wave electromagnetic drilling, which uses vacuum tubes to shoot high-powered light beams that effectively burn through the Earth. It's a bit like a microwave.
The breakthrough could potentially allow any country on Earth to become energy independent, according to the company, while simultaneously addressing the climate crisis.
“We need a massive amount of carbon-free energy in the coming decades,” said Mark Cupta, managing director of Prelude Ventures, who recently joined a $40m Series A financing round for the clean energy startup.
“Quaise Energy offers one of the most resource-efficient and nearly infinitely scalable solutions to power our planet. It is the perfect complement to our current renewable solutions, allowing us to reach baseload sustainable power in a not so distant future.”
The latest funding round will be used to accelerate product development and build ready-to-use drilling machines capable of being deployed by 2024.
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