A Soviet research team drilled the Kola well between 1970 and ’92 to a depth of 12,262 meters. Since 1979 she has been considered the deepest hole in the earth. However, science is obviously not quite satisfied with this. Quaise Energy has set goals that could not only break records, but also solve significant problems.
Deepest drilling planned
In addition to solar energy, wind power and a variety of other options for generating renewable energy, geothermal energy has receded somewhat into the background over the past few years. But Quaise doesn’t want to let that rest. The company wants to combine conventional drilling methods with a megawatt flash lamp. It is inspired by the very technology that could one day make mass-produced nuclear fusion power plants possible.
Such innovative approaches are needed to surpass the depth of the Kola well. It may sound easy to drill a hole into the earth’s interior, but in fact the instruments sometimes have to withstand temperatures of more than 180 degrees Celsius – and be enormously long. Hence the idea of the spin-off company from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Instead of just drilling, Quaise wants to burn his way free.
With start-up and investment money, the team wants to develop operational equipment for drilling the deepest hole in the earth within the next two years. By 2026, a functioning system for generating electricity should also be in place. Old coal-fired power plants are set to serve as sites for steam-powered plants powered by geothermal energy from 2028, Quaise explains on his website.
What are the advantages?
Specifically, the energy company promises “a truly equitable, clean source of energy.” It is present near every population and industrial center on the planet. Quaise Energy also names concrete advantages resulting from its plans. Research and industry could use them to solve three of humanity’s major problems.
N°1: Clean Energy
“Geothermal energy requires no fuel and produces no waste,” the company writes. “It is truly renewable, abundant and common to all, even in the most challenging energy environments.”
N°2: living space
According to Quaise Energy, deep geothermal energy requires less than 1 percent of the soil and materials that other renewable energy sources use. The necessary infrastructure is already in place. Oil rigs, coal-fired power plants and other fossil fuel power plants can be used to build clean plants. In contrast to wind turbines and solar systems, the project therefore does not take up any space that could otherwise be used as living space for the steadily growing population.
N°3: district heating
But the deepest borehole in the earth – or many of them – would not only serve to generate electricity. The project could also be used to generate district heating. “For the use of geothermal energy as a heat source for district heating networks, it is advantageous to design these as low-temperature district heating networks (<80 degrees C)," notes the Federal Geothermal Association at this point. At least for this, new infrastructure would have to be created if necessary.
Source: Quaise Energy; Federal Geothermal Association; own research
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