This is how technology works. Nothing operates in a vacuum. Within this realm, it is breakthroughs in one area that affects another.
The energy sector is going through major transition. What if, however, all the money being spent on wind and solar is a complete waste? Many feel this is the case since they believe fusion will take over.
What if that is not true either? Could it be that the massive advancements in fusion made it obsolete also?
Imagine advancements in drilling that could completely change the energy sector.
Drilling Into The Future
Advancement in drilling could meet all of our energy needs. This is not for fossil fuels but, rather, for the most powerful clean energy source we ever came upon.
It is geothermal and a spin off from MIT might have the answer.
MIT spin-off Quaise says it's going to use hijacked fusion technology to drill the deepest holes in history, unlocking clean, virtually limitless, supercritical geothermal energy that can re-power fossil-fuelled power plants all over the world.
The idea is to use technology that is presently being pursued for the generation of nuclear fusion to enhance the drilling techniques. Get through the Earth's core, going deeper and in less time, could be the answer.
Quaise plans to drill holes up to 20 km (12.4 miles) deep, significantly deeper than the Kola Superdeep Borehole – but where the Kola team took nearly 20 years to reach their limit, Quaise expects its gyrotron-enhanced process to take just 100 days. And that's assuming a 1-MW gyrotron.
At this level we see temperatures of 500 degrees C which is hot enough to match the energy density derived from fossil fuels.
The company plans to have a demonstration unit ready by 2024.
We could see this accelerating quickly. The company plans to use existing plants. The first year it looks to do this is in 2028.
All the infrastructure is in place. Only a hole deep enough has to be drilled to provide the energy and the source of power for the plant is instantly converted. All else remains the same.
This can be done all over the world.
Consistent Renewable Energy
Why is this a threat to wind and solar?
To start, neither of those is dependable. Simply, the sun does not always shine nor does the wind continually blow.
The other factor is that not every area is suited for these forms of energy. The extreme northern and southern latitudes, for example, are not ideally suited for solar since there are times of the year the sun is not very strong.
Geo-thermal would be a major breakthrough. Once the core is tapped, the energy coming out is consistent and will last a long time.
Where there's access to heat, there's harvestable geothermal energy. And there's so much heat below the Earth's surface, according to Paul Woskov, a senior fusion research engineer at MIT, that tapping just 0.1 percent of it could supply the entire world's energy needs for more than 20 million years.
The plan for Quaise is to, hopefully, keep converting old coal plants over to this system. With advanced drilling that reaches 10-15 miles down, every country can be energy independent. This means that accessing the Earth's energy from most places in the world.
It is also an idea that, if it comes to fruition, will make the present investment in other forms of renewable energy, including nuclear fusion, obsolete. Geo-thermal built out to the degree this company is seeking would provide all the energy we need, many times over.
Is this something that will be accomplished? At present, it is too early to tell. However, this is an example of how going down one road can lead to breakthroughs in other areas.
The world still awaits fusion technology and it might still be waiting. By the end of this decade, power plants could start to be converted over to geo-thermal using these advanced drilling techniques.
Here is a short video detailing what the company is looking to do.