Geothermal Systems leading the charge for clean, sustainable energy

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are poised to revolutionise the renewable energy sector. By harnessing heat from deep within the Earth, EGS offers a promising solution for the global transition to cleaner energy sources. These advanced systems enable access to geothermal resources in regions lacking natural hydrothermal activity, potentially transforming our approach to sustainable energy. With financial backing and engineering advancements, EGS could extend the reach of traditional geothermal energy and redefine the capabilities of the renewable energy sector.

EGS technology expands geothermal energy exploitation beyond areas of obvious volcanic or geothermal activity. By injecting water under pressure to create fractures in hot, non-permeable rock, EGS facilitates water circulation and efficient underground heat capture. This technology can potentially provide geothermal energy almost anywhere, offering constant and predictable energy production unaffected by climatic variations. Recent pilot projects by Chevron New Energies and Fervo Energy, funded by initiatives such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, demonstrate growing interest and investment in EGS.

A significant challenge for EGS is the cost and technical difficulty of drilling at great depths and managing extreme temperatures. Standard equipment often cannot withstand the intense conditions several kilometres below the Earth’s surface. Engineers are adapting horizontal drilling and magnetic detection technologies, originally developed for the oil and gas industry, to enhance the efficiency and feasibility of EGS installations. Projects like the Frontier Observatory for Geothermal Energy Research (FORGE) in Utah are testing tools capable of withstanding these extreme conditions, paving the way for significant advancements in the field.

The development of EGS involves technical and regulatory challenges. Legislators must adapt legal frameworks designed for traditional natural resources to support innovation in the geothermal sector. Laws governing mineral and groundwater rights, such as the Mining Law of 1872 and the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, play a crucial but complex role in EGS project implementation. Developers must navigate permit requirements and environmental regulations, which vary from state to state in the United States. Simplifying regulatory processes and harmonising policies could accelerate EGS technology deployment and its contribution to a sustainable energy grid.

Despite its challenges, EGS represents a promising pathway for clean energy. EGS could increase geothermal energy’s share of the global energy mix and stimulate local economies by creating new jobs. Its ability to provide constant baseload power is attractive to regions seeking to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, helping to stabilise power grids amid growing demand. Advanced geothermal systems are a turning point for the renewable energy industry, offering immense potential for a sustainable energy future. Continued technological advances and investment in EGS could be key to transitioning to a carbon-free energy grid.

Enteq Technologies plc (LON:NTQ) develops and supplies equipment for Measurement, Logging and Geo-steering while drilling of wells for the Geothermal, Oil and Gas markets.

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