Resource Potential of SuperHot Rock

Date and Time
October 22, 2020 03:45 PM (PDT)–04:45 PM (PDT)
In order to make geothermal power available economically everywhere, developers have to go deeper and hotter. Conventional geothermal projects produce fluids with relatively low energy densities because current technology can only scratch the surface of the larger heat energy resources that are available at depth. However, technologies are developing that will extract earth heat at densities on a disruptive scale, energy from deeper resources called SuperHot Rock (SHR). SHR geothermal resources are those where pressure and temperature exceed the supercritical point of water, typically ≥ 374 °C. Supercriticality increases fluid energy density fourfold (vs. 200 °C), and energy conversion efficiency at these temperatures is increased by 2.5x. This results in a 10x increase in extracted energy per well over conventional geothermal and 4-5x more energy per well than typical shale gas fields. However, getting to hard rock at depths of ~10 km requires breakthroughs across a spectrum of conventional drilling and extraction technologies. Furthermore, just like the revolution in US shale gas development, there is a path to innovate geothermal, reach all that energy, and incentivize the oil and gas industry to extract heat instead of carbon. The international geothermal community understands the economic value of exploiting SHR, and the race to develop these technologies is on. The most geothermally savvy countries in the world—Iceland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and China—are all pursuing SHR projects. International collaboration could benefit the entire industry and help bring this resource online and scale in record time to address climate emissions reduction goals globally. This paper serves to provide an overview of the state of development, uncertainties, technology development needs, and to chart a path to achieve commercial success within a decade.
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