As Alberta, Canada-based Eavor Technologies describes it, the Earth is a boundless battery, fully charged by an inexhaustible and ubiquitous renewable energy source: its superheated core. However, one roadblock the startup points to is the scalability of geothermal energy. Nevertheless, it believes its novel “closed-loop system” can open the door to scaling geothermal energy. Announced last week, the startup raised a new cash flow, to the tune of $182 million, to help get its tech to scale.
The round was led by the Austrian oil and gas company OMV AG and saw participation from Canada Growth Fund, Japan Energy Fund, Monaco Asset Management, and Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, as well as existing investors like BDC, bp Ventures, Eversource Energy, Temasek, and Vickers Venture Partners.
The reason Eavor sees its closed-loop system, EavorLoop, as a solution to scaling geothermal is because presently, many geothermal systems require fracking, a controversial practice related to oil drilling, water use, and release extremely small amounts of carbon dioxide, though not nearly as much as its fossil fuel counterparts. According to Eavor, these factors give its geothermal system the “most benign environmental footprint in the world.”
Still, that’s not even the biggest draw, which is instead, the fact that the startup claims its system is the “world’s first truly scalable form of clean, baseload, and dispatchable power.” This means that instead of a “parasitic system,” which the majority of geothermal systems currently have, it has a baseload system. A parasitic system sounds just like what it is, a system in which power is consumed even when the appliance is shut off, sucking up “standby power” like a parasite, without giving electricity in return. A baseload system, on the other hand, can supply the minimum level of electricity needed for demand over 24 hours and provides power to components that keep running at all times.
In a nutshell, geothermal energy works by drilling wells to extract heat from deep underground, typically in places where magma chambers are close to the surface (think near volcanic and seismic activity). These wells bring the heat to the surface using a working fluid, where it is, then, transformed into electricity, typically through steam turbines. What makes Eavor’s closed-loop system different is that it continuously circulates Eavor’s working fluid in a way that never stops. This heat is then harvested for either commercial heating applications or to generate electricity.
According to John Redfern, the president and CEO of Eavor, the funding “emboldens” the company’s efforts to “deploy its system worldwide, helping to drive us all towards a sustainable, reliable, and bright energy future.”
“We are delighted to have the support of our new investing partners and the continued commitment of existing partners while we advance the commerciality of our Eavor-Loop™ technology, beginning with our first full-scale project already in construction at Geretsried in Germany,” he said.
In addition to its successful round, the startup also recently began a project, as commissioned by the United States Air Force, where Eavor will be delivering a generated geothermal energy system for its Joint Base San Antonio (JSBA) in Texas. Once completed, the system is set to supply reliable clean energy to the base, notably minimizing downtime during electrical grid disruption.
The Texas project is only another notch in its worldwide commercialization plan. The startup has partnered with Sonoma Clean Power to bring geothermal energy to Sonoma and Mendocino Counties in California, has a project in New Mexico, and has at least five geothermal projects underway across Europe, a fact that helped earn the startup a €91.6 ($96.82) million grant from the European Innovation Fund.
“Eavor, a homegrown clean technology champion, has the potential to accelerate decarbonization of global heat and power markets, and we’re proud to support this Alberta-based company as they scale up and grow their business worldwide,” said Patrick Charbonneau, CEO of CGF investment management.