It’s the only renewable energy source capable of providing a 24/7 base load capacity for the entire Earth, and it’s the best way to ensure we reach our 2050 net-zero goals. As a result, interest in geothermal has increased dramatically in the past several decades. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) expects geothermal energy to increase 16-fold to 60 GWe by 2050, supplying 20% of U.S. renewable energy generation.
In the U.S.—and worldwide—only a tiny portion of geothermal energy is accessible through natural hydrothermal systems. There is vast, untapped potential for permeability enhancement of geothermal reservoirs to increase resource recovery and economics. Estimations show there are anywhere from 5,000 GWe nationally, just 3-7 kilometers deep, which we can access by enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), which are manufactured reservoirs created where there are elevated temperatures but low permeability. However, EGS are held back by current technology, and unlocking these resources is critical to providing reliable, clean, renewable energy.
In 2021, the DOE started the Energy Earthshots Initiative to accelerate the development of abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions. The Enhanced Geothermal Earthshot, the fourth shot introduced on September 8, 2022, aims to reduce the cost of enhanced geothermal systems by 90% to $45 per megawatt hour by 2035.
Innovations in drilling and reservoir stimulation technology are required to deliver affordable geothermal power to the rest of the world. However, much of the current research focuses on drilling. Under the Enhanced Geothermal Shot, The DOE awarded funding to two projects working to mitigate the challenges causing high drilling costs. And while drilling innovations are crucial, considering the deepest wells are only a couple of kilometers below the surface, drilling deeper won’t solve the problem of low permeability.
Eden is working on a solution. Our first-of-its-kind Electrical Reservoir Stimulation Technology has the power to revolutionize the geothermal industry and solve the problem of low permeability. Although hydraulic fracturing has had tremendous success in the oil and gas industry, it alone can’t create adequate permeability to sustain commercial-scale energy production from EGS. Additionally, due to the extreme pressure and temperature conditions downhole, today’s hydraulic fracturing equipment is unsuitable for these extreme geothermal conditions.
Our Electrical Reservoir Stimulation technology can create evenly distributed permeability networks in the subsurface to maximize geothermal power generation. Our novel approach to stimulation utilizes high-voltage electricity as the primary mechanism to increase reservoir permeability. It also enables greater directional control of the created fracture network, stimulating target areas while mitigating issues that cause short-circuit factors. Electrical Reservoir Stimulation is also significantly less expensive than hydraulic fracturing—up to 50% less costly over the lifetime of a well. This is due to many factors, including its ability to be powered by renewable solar energy and the reduced amount of water needed.
Effective, lower-cost stimulation is critical for economically viable resource recovery. Electrical Reservoir Stimulation works seamlessly with recent innovations in geothermal reservoir drilling to successfully stimulate wells, achieving maximum net power output. That’s why Eden has partnered with innovators in geothermal drilling to work towards achieving the Enhanced Geothermal Earthshot goal.