World’s deepest hole could unlock enough energy to power the world

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A machine capable of digging the world’s deepest hole could potentially unlock enough renewable energy to power the entire planet, according to its creators.

US-based Quays Energy is developing a drilling rig that is expected to reach 16 km (10 mi) beneath the Earth’s surface to harness “incredible clean energy” from geothermal heat in the crust. Can go

“The total energy content of heat stored underground exceeds our annual energy demand by a factor of a billion,” Matt Houde, co-founder of Quas Energy, said at TEDx Boston last week.

“Tapping a fraction of this is more than enough to meet our energy needs for the foreseeable future.”

The current record for the world’s deepest hole is the Kola borehole in the Arctic Circle, which has a depth of 12.2 km. It took more than two decades to drill the USSR but was abandoned after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The difficulties of drilling at those depths have meant that harnessing deep geothermal energy on a large scale has so far proved impossible.

After boring through soft rock close to the surface, Quays Energy replaces conventional drill bits with millimeter wave energy that melts and penetrates harder rocks.

The technology was developed by researchers at MIT 15 years ago, and is finally ready to be taken out of the lab.

Artist’s rendering of Quass drilling rig

Several obstacles remain before the record depth is reached, notably the challenge of removing ash from the borehole after the rock has vaporized.

“Our current plan is to drill the first hole in the field in the next few years,” Houde said.

“And as we continue to advance technology to drill deeper, we will also explore our first commercial geothermal projects in shallower settings.”

If successful Quais Energy claims that any country on Earth could potentially become energy independent. The firm has already raised more than $63 million in an effort to commercialize the technology.

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