Two things do geothermal and solar heat have in common: they are both clean and “bottomless bags.” Still, unlike solar, geothermal heat does not vary according to the weather forecast, the moment of the day or the season we’re in. It’s there to stay and make our lives better, less dependent on perennial sources like oil and gas. That is what the Research Council of Norway has figured out and in the process allowed NOK 24 million (US$ 4 million) to the NEXT-Drill project.
Several Norwegian groups are interested in the deep geological energy, some even partaking in this project. Why? Because Norway’s latitude allows for the ground temperature to increase with up to 20 degrees centigrade per kilometer dug into the crust. So it only makes sense that somebody would look for a way to harness that potential.
Extending on a four-year period and coordinated by SINTEF, NEXT-Drill is what you call an industrial competence project, meaning it brings together research institutes and universities. The authorities in the field estimate that the drilling technology has made substantial progress in the last decade. However, for now, the project only expects to look at new methods of drilling in hard rock and well technology for both conventional and deep geothermal energy.
The scientists getting their hands dirty will come from SINTEF, NTNU, IRIS and the University of Stavanger, but will be joined in their efforts by experts from energy companies like Statoil, Statnett and the leading Swedish manufacturer of equipment for drilling in hard rock – Atlas Copco Scoroc. Also, the entrepreneur and technology companies Resonator, Norhard, Pen-Rock and Rock Energy have announced their presence too.
If the project will be a success, it will benefit the Norwegian energy industry a great deal, but it will also boost the global green energy mix. After all, geothermal heat is to be found mostly everywhere!