President & CEO, Eavor Technologies
Chief Business Development Officer,
Geothermal energy is the whole package. It’s clean, it’s reliable, and it’s there whenever you need it. But it has never been portable or scalable. Until now.
You can spend years in Iceland and not run out of things to see, but one sight you’ll be hard-pressed to find is an oil rig or gas plant. In the face of a climate crisis, there’s a lot to learn from this island nation that runs on geothermal power.
But you may have noticed that Canada isn’t a volcanic island. “Even though traditional geothermal has been around for 100 years, it’s still a tiny fraction of the world’s power, and there’s a good reason why,” says John Redfern, President and CEO of Calgary’s own geothermal disruptor, Eavor Technologies. “It only works in a few places and it’s not scalable. The obvious question is: what technology would we need to make geothermal work anywhere?”
You can tell pretty quickly that Redfern is the kind of guy with answers for questions like that. But, in the beginning, that wasn’t even the question that Eavor was asking. It was focused instead on something Canada has a surplus of: obsolescent fossil fuel assets.
Eavor has developed a whole new way of doing geothermal that’s perfectly suited to Canadian geology, and it can be exported worldwide.
Leveraging Canada’s oil and gas expertise to lead the clean revolution
Where traditional geothermal relies on freely-cycling water through fractured volcanic formations, the Eavor-Loop™ uses a closed-loop system to pump a proprietary circulatory fluid through a network of precision-drilled pipes kilometres underground, using the Earth’s natural heat as a rechargeable battery. As the fluid flows through the deep bored wells, it heats up, and that heat can be removed as clean energy on each cycle. Or, when demand is low, the heated fluid can be recirculated, increasing the intensity of energy stored within it, all to be dispatched whenever it’s needed.
For the Canadian workforce, the idea of drilling for zero-emission power is like hitting the jackpot. “The oil and gas guys know that we need to transition to clean energy, but of course they don’t want to be a turkey voting for Christmas,” says Redfern. “Now, along comes our technology built on the same skill sets and equipment used in oil and gas, and it becomes a match made in heaven. People are going to transition their jobs to closed-loop geothermal without retraining, and sometimes without even leaving the rig they were working on.”
Rounding out the renewable mix and changing the world
Today, Eavor is developing hundreds of commercial prospects worldwide, with a goal of bringing its costs down below five cents per kilowatt hour.
“Wind and solar are always going to be the cheapest clean energy per kilowatt hour,” acknowledges Redfern. “But you can’t have a grid that runs on only wind and solar. You need something with a higher energy density that can provide baseload power and that’s dispatchable even when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Closed-loop geothermal is the perfect third course to round out the renewable energy meal.”
At this point, everyone is taking Eavor seriously. With investment from Chevron and BP, it’s at the head of the closed-loop pack, and it’s working like hell to stay there. “We’re talking about the largest market on Earth. Our limiting factors are going to be things like, literally, how many drilling rigs there are on the planet,” says Eavor Chief Business Development Officer Paul Cairns. “There’s a tremendous amount of work to be done and we can’t do it all on our own. By using our partners to help us go global, we change the world.”