Thu, 22 July, 2021
“I'm not crazy, my reality is just different than yours.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
How apt! Oil and gas companies drilling for geothermal, with no barrels of energy to be seen. Abandoned, end-of-life, low production, government moratorium oil and gas wells being re-purposed for producing geothermal heat! How crazy is that?
Deeper and deeper geothermal wells planned, super-critical fluids with increased energy density to run power generating turbines! Single well geothermal systems, vacuum insulated casing!
Wave Drilling, Electron Pulse Drilling, Plasma Drilling, Laser Drilling, Flame Drilling – weapons to divert the end of humankind? Maybe yes and maybe no! As wells become more and more complex in their geometries, the depths planned and how formations encountered behave at highly elevated temperatures and changes in stress regimes, we need to encompass and consider increasingly novel ways of accessing these new frontiers.
It does sometimes seem as if the geothermal industry is heading toward the same point, by going in wildly different directions. It is pretty much agreed that if you drill deep into the earth’s crust the temperature will increase; not always at the same rate, but it will increase, and the heating source is truly sustainable, until our planet is destroyed by some external means or until our sun runs out of gas.
How often do people climb up a hill to get a better view, when the hill itself is a mighty fine sight in its own right?
Simple technology, done brilliantly, makes sense, does it not? This is the ethos of The Geo-Drill project. To drill deeper wells, with lower costs and associated risks, tapping into higher temperature reservoirs and/or formations.
Whereas many other technologies may benefit deep geothermal exploitation in the future, the Geo-Drill system is based on well proven technology, which is being given a 21st Century makeover – break rock into small enough particles, so they can be carried out of the well. And at the same time get data from the base of well, whilst drilling, to optimise the process.
The research work into geothermal drilling is continuing apace and with all things, there is no “one size fits all’ and many wells will require a mix of methods to optimise and reduce drilling costs, similar in many ways to how the oil and gas industry evolved from cable tools, through roller cone bits, fixed cutter bits and advanced steering systems. However, unlike oil and gas reservoirs, which are almost exclusively within sedimentary formations (with curved balls), whereas geothermal will encounter every formation conceivable as we are only limited by depth and drilling risks associated with the new and challenges.
The Geo-Drill system will be one of the cornerstone technologies for the increase in utilisation of 24/7 baseload geothermal energy, but it will also be important in accessing geological zones that will be integral to CO2 storage, hydrogen production/storage and many other net-zero mitigation strategies. Geothermal will of course help greatly in “greening” the production of hydrogen, which will be the most important change to transportation and many industrial processes, as where suitable formations exist, they can be close to points of usage, unlike wind and solar which have very large footprints, requiring them to be constructed at some distance from end-users of power, even with solar complexes being integrated into roofing structures of large space frame buildings.
So, no more staring upwards for blue-sky thinking, but look downwards for the heat and power to keep our climate safe for future generations – and no more unsightly edifices, just simple technologies, done brilliantly.
(Article Courtesy - Geolorn)