Path to SuperHot Geothermal Energy Development

Date and Time
October 20, 2020 10:15 AM (PDT)–11:15 AM (PDT)

Blunting climate change requires a massive shift by mid-century in energy sources to drive the global economy away from highly carbon-intensive systems. Electricity and transportation comprise nearly 70% of global carbon emissions. Electrifying transportation and decarbonating electricity production will create new engines of economic growth worldwide while ending those emissions. Right now, geothermal energy is only a small source of global electricity, but it is also one of the most promising and under-accessed sources for rapidly developing more carbon-free electricity. The heat of held between 3-10 km of crustal rock is one million times greater than modern global primary energy use, but the current geothermal industry only scratches at the surfaces of this resource. Breakthrough technologies will capture deeper heat at energy densities that will disrupt the renewable energy landscape. Very high temperatures can provide low-cost, carbon-free sources of electricity near demand centers all over the world with minimal (and conventional) infrastructure and environmental footprint. This advanced form of geothermal energy is referred to as Superhot Rock (SHR) geothermal. Because of the very high energy density, developing the technology to use SHR can not only expand world-wide access to zero carbon emission energy, but can also reduce the cost of electricity for much of the population. To get to use of this technology in the near and distant future, we need not only technology development but a pathway to demonstrating that this energy source is viable.

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