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Principal Author and Editor 21st Century Tech Blog

Futurist, Writer and Researcher, now retired, former freelance writer for new technology ventures. Former President & CEO of Len Rosen Marketing Inc., a marketing consulting firm focused on...

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  • Jul 11, 2022
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Geothermal energy was exploited by the Romans over two thousand years ago. It was used to heat baths and the floors of villas and homes. It is a considerable contributor to the energy requirements of Costa Rica and New Zealand. Europe’s capacity for geothermal remains largely unexploited to this day and yet the source lies right under the EU’s feet. And now, Europe and the rest of the world may soon be able to apply an old Soviet-developed technology, the gyrotron, to unlock the immense energy reserves lying deep in the Earth. An MIT spinoff, Quaise Energy is planning to do just that.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 11, 2022

The impression I always had was that geothermal paralleled hydropower in that it is immensely beneficial in regions that happen to have the right geography to allow for it, but it's shortcoming is not being able to scale to wherever it may be desired otherwise due to those constraints. That said, tapping into the maximum amount of geothermal that is available (much like doing so with hydropower) appears to be some low hanging fruit

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Len Rosen on Jul 11, 2022

The past is not the present for geothermal. The various technologies deployed in the past were all about low-hanging fruit. But we have the technology and the human resources and skills to deploy geothermal almost everywhere on the planet. There is hot rock 5 to 10 kilometres below all of us.

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Jul 11, 2022

The initial cost to bore all the lines needed for Geo Thermal used to be a big problem. Toay with the many small horizontal drilling machines that cost has dropped. They you need the right soil for drilling. In the Phoenix Arizona are where I live this has been a big problem with rock and other very difficult material in the ground. Many areas can't even have a basement because of hard foundation material close to the surface.

      When I live in cold cloudy upstate NY around the Syracuse area the local Jesuit college Lemoyne College put in a big Geo-Thermal system. It was perfect as wind and Solar just don't  produce much in that area. As good as their system was for both cold winters and hot humid summers I didn't see any others put in a similar system. I'm not sure but I think the upfront cost held others back. Today that should not be the case. Maybe some will wake up as energy costs go higher.     

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Jul 18, 2022

Thanks for supplying the reference  to Quaise Energy. It sounds like quite a change from conventional drilling:

«Quaise’s approach to geothermal drilling involves burning holes into rocks by blasting them with high-frequency electromagnetic waves called ​“millimeter waves.” The beams are produced with a gyrotron, a high-powered vacuum tube that’s also used to conduct nuclear fusion experiments.»

It doesn’t get much more high tech than that!  The plan is to drill to  a depth of 20 km.  That’s about twice the current world record.

Still, I would not lightly dismiss an MIT spinoff.

They plan to be on-line producing power by 2028.

It will be interesting to monitor their progress.

 

 

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