The United States possesses significant geothermal energy resources, but the majority of them are imprisoned inside impenetrable rock formations, out of reach. That is about to change.
The US Department of Energy has been funding research and development on a new approach to 24/7 thermal energy known as enhanced geothermal systems, and one of its private sector partners has just received $138 million in new funding to complete the construction of two new geothermal-fueled power plants in the US.
What are Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS)?
EGS entails creating subterranean reservoirs in rock formations to access thermal energy that would otherwise be unavailable. This has the potential to power tens of millions of American homes and businesses.
The biggest challenge is creating a reservoir far down, where no one can see it. Enhanced reservoirs bear little resemblance to ordinary reservoirs.
The goal is to construct networks of cracks in basement rock formations, and the first major scientific task will be to figure out how to sustain the new fractures.
Fervo Energy, a geothermal startup that has been developing its EGS technology with assistance from the Energy Department, has developed a solution (it seems so).
The horizontal well concept by Fervo connects subterranean wells via a network of hydraulically conductive cracks enclosed by impermeable rock. These cracks serve as flow routes, allowing interaction with the geothermal reservoir and allowing for long-term heat recovery, while the low-permeability rock limits fluid leakage.
“Charging and discharging cycles are carried out by managing injection and production well flow rates and pressures in order to produce variable generation profiles in response to grid needs and time-shift energy at high round-trip efficiency,” they explain.
Fervo’s next stages include fine-tuning a fiber-optics instrument that will allow geothermal researchers to view what’s going on underneath, so stay tuned for more…
This is a Globe PR News-Feed; researched and edited by Clean-Future Team