BP and Chevron have invested in Eavor Technologies Inc., an innovative technology company that (finally) may help drive the future of geothermal energy. The funds will be used for technology commercialization and to help Eavor scale its already extensive project pipeline. Eavor received a total of $40M from bp Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, Temasek, BDC Capital, Eversource and Vickers Venture Partners.
Eavor’s technology, known as Eavor-Loop, uses the natural heat of the earth like a giant rechargeable battery. Fluids are heated by the earth and circulated in a closed network of underground wellbores, unlocking a reliable and consistent energy source. Eavor’s technology differs from other forms of geothermal in that it is a scalable “go anywhere” solution, harvesting geothermal heat to generate dispatchable power with zero emissions.
The consistency of its heat harvesting gives it the potential to directly replace the traditional forms of baseload power such as coal and nuclear. The dispatchable nature of its design also makes its Eavor-Loop a form of energy storage, and thus singularly complimentary to intermittent power sources like wind and solar.
The investments will also bolster Eavor’s on-going research and development efforts to its clean dispatchable power price competitive in all markets.
Eavor’s technology consists of several innovations. Its Eavor-Loop is a closed system within which a proprietary working fluid is contained and circulated. The working fluid is not fluid from a reservoir flowing into its wells, but rather a fluid added to the closed Eavor-Loop that creates an efficient radiator, much like a vehicle radiator circulates fluid in a closed loop to remove heat from a gasoline engine.
The loop harvests heat from deep in the earth for commercial heating applications such as greenhouses or district heating, or to be used to generate electricity using conventional heat to power engines. Eavor-Loop is an industrial scale geothermal system that mitigates many of the issues present in traditional geothermal systems that rely upon on wells to produce brine from a subsurface aquifer.
The closed-loop is the key difference between Eavor-Loop™ and all traditional industrial-scale geothermal systems. Eavor-Loop™ is a buried-pipe system, which acts as a radiator or heat exchanger. It consists of connecting two vertical wells several kilometres deep with many horizontal multilateral wellbores several kilometres long. As these wellbores are sealed, a benign, environmentally friendly, working fluid is added to the closed loop as a circulating fluid. This working fluid is contained within the system and isolated from the earth in the Eavor-Loop™. The wellbores act as pipes, not wells producing fluid from the earth.
The working fluid naturally circulates without requiring an external pump due to the thermosiphon effect of a hot fluid rising in the outlet well and a cool fluid falling in the inlet well. The working fluid contained in this closed loop pipe system brings thermal energy to the surface where it is harvested for use in a commercial direct heat application or converted to electricity with a power generation module (heat engine). Unlike heat pumps (or “geo-exchange”), which convert electricity to heat using very shallow wells, Eavor-Loop generates industrial scale electricity or produces enough heat for the equivalent of 16,000 homes with a single installation.
Eavor’s Demonstration Project
The company’s demonstration project is a full-scale prototype of the Eavor technology suite. The project site is located near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. Drilling and construction is expected to begin this July. Eavor-Lite consists of two vertical wells, joined by two multilateral legs at 2.4km depth, connected by a pipeline at surface. The rationale for this design, which is not intended to be commercially viable, is to build a project that proves and demonstrates all the critical elements of Eavor’s technologies at the lowest cost. This demonstration is designed to achieve the most efficient path to acceptance and commercialization of the technology by project developers and commercial financiers.