The second annual Energy Excellence Awards (EEAs) program, presented by the Daily Oil Bulletin, uniquely recognizes energy excellence and focuses on the advancement of collaboration within Canada’s energy industry.
For 2020, the DOB received close to 90 nominations in four broad awards categories — Project Execution Excellence; Innovation & Technology Excellence; Environmental Excellence; and Exporting Excellence — recognizing work completed last year. The nominees were further broken down into 12 subcategories across the four groupings, before being judged by a committee of industry leaders.
In the following days we will present the champions in each subcategory. Today, we feature the champion in Environmental Excellence in the subcategory of Cleantech: Air.
Champion Announcement Podcast: Listen to our podcast announcing the champion of this category and a panel discussion on what makes organizations and technologies within this category stand out as it relates to lowering emissions, reducing freshwater use, and limiting surface disturbances.
Leading the discussion is Wendy Ell, director of strategic partnerships and industry development for Glacier Resource Innovation Group, which publishes the DOB. Joining her is Brian Van Vliet, with the environmental solutions division of Spartan Controls, Silver Sponsor of the EEAs; Morgan Rodwell, senior director of process technology for Fluor Canada, Gold Sponsor of the EEAs; as well as Jason Switzer, executive director of the Alberta Clean Technology Industry Alliance (ACTia).
As more countries join the fight against the climate crisis with net zero emissions goals for mid-century, the need for low-emissions baseload and dispatchable energy — which cannot be met with intermittent wind and solar power — is mounting.
Eavor Technologies Inc. has heavily leveraged oil and gas industry drilling and completions technology to develop the world’s first entirely closed loop, truly scalable zero emissions baseload power source. By making it accessible anywhere, anytime, the technology fills the intermittency gap left by conventional renewables.
The company’s “Eavor-Loop” geothermal power system would not only help clean the air, but could help kick start a new Canadian geothermal industry, earning the company the Energy Excellence Award in the Cleantech: Air category.
The three-year-old Calgary-based company has joined in a new Geothermal Collaboration Network, along with the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, Clean Energy Canada, the Clean Resource Innovation Network and the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.
John Redfern, Eavor president and chief executive officer, called the collaboration a triple victory for the environment, the economy and jobs. Under the joint program, Eavor believes Alberta could attract up to $4 billion in foreign investment capital, create 400 megawatts of clean dispatchable power and eliminate two million tonnes of CO2 per year, while eventually employing 5,000 displaced oil service workers.
The company’s Eavor-Loop system is an industrial scale energy generation system that operates much like a massive subsurface radiator, collecting energy from the natural heat gradient of the Earth via a highly efficient and unique conductive system.
The system consists of connecting two vertical wells several kilometres deep with many horizontal multilateral wellbores several kilometres long, creating a closed buried-pipe system. The wellbores act as pipes, not wells producing fluid from the earth.
A proprietary working fluid, sealed from the underground reservoir, is circulated through the loop to harvest heat, which can be used to generate electricity or in commercial heating/cooling applications. Because the working fluid is isolated from the environment, there is no risk of aquifer contamination and no need to access or treat water. The working fluid naturally circulates without requiring an external pump due to the thermosiphon effect of a hot fluid rising in the outlet well and a cool fluid falling in the inlet well, the company said.
Unlike conventional geothermal power systems, Eavor-Loop does not require an existing underground reservoir of hot water, which eliminates exploration risk and makes it feasible anywhere, since the underground heat gradient is present everywhere.
And unlike engineered geothermal power systems that fracture hot deep rock formations through which fluid is circulated, Eavor-Loop requires no fracking, eliminating the earthquake risk that can hinder development of those emerging systems.
Its surface footprint is the lowest of any power source and because it can be built virtually anywhere, it can’t be held hostage to grid connectivity concerns, the company notes. Since it can provide baseload — as well as dispatchable — power, Eavor-Loop does not require backup natural gas peaker plants, resulting in lower emissions than even wind and solar can typically provide.
Eavor’s demonstration project, Eavor-Lite, was completed near Rocky Mountain House last fall to both prove out the innovative techniques and processes involved and to represent a geological proxy for the global market. Federal and provincial grant agencies contributed almost $9 million to the project, which was completed and third-party validated as having achieved all project objectives in December.
“Several learnings, processes and methods leading to new intellectual properties have come from the Eavor-Lite project,” the company said. That, along with Eavor’s ongoing research and development that includes work with scientists from the University of Toronto and University of Alberta, led to new concepts and ideas that have already been used to develop advancements to the Eavor-Loop technology. These advancements are now ready for field-testing, Eavor said.
The technology transfer is a two-way street. “For example, some of the drilling innovations we’re pioneering could improve drilling speeds in certain types of rock and certain fluid innovations could lead to improved performance in ground source heat pumps and/or district heating systems,” the company noted.
By proving up the technology in Alberta, which is not advantageous to conventional geothermal power systems, Eavor showed that it could be done anywhere, Redfern told the DOB. “We arrived at a different solution than most people because we started with a different question. Most people ask, ‘How do I make geothermal better?’ And the answer is, go hotter and deeper,” he said.
“We didn’t have that option here. The sedimentary basin isn’t that deep…. So we were limited in temperature and that’s why we had to look for this more efficient solution. It is because Alberta [is so challenging] for geothermal that we came up with an innovative way of doing it.”
Eavor entered into a partnership with Carmacks Development Corporation, wholly owned by the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation, in January to deliver green baseload energy in the Yukon using Eavor-Loop technology.
And in May it announced a deal with Enex Power Germany GmbH for a commercial Eavor-Loop project to be built in Geretsried, Germany. Pending regulatory approvals and project financing, construction is planned to start in early 2021 at Enex’s existing geothermal license area, where two exploratory geothermal wells have already been drilled.
While neither well was able to deliver enough hot hydrothermal water to allow for the economic development of a traditional geothermal project, both wells confirmed a geothermal gradient or formation temperature well suited for the commercial development of Eavor-Loops, and the production of electricity and commercial heat suitable for district heating and industrial processes. The company is also in advanced discussions for projects in other countries in Europe and Asia.
Eavor’s connections to the oil and gas industry are many. Shell New Energies functioned as both a supporting partner and observer to the demonstration project. Its in-kind contributions to the project, in the form of both project design and engineering support, served to de-risk many critical technical aspects of the project and Shell remains engaged with Eavor in its commercialization phase in Europe.
Acting as vendor partner almost from its inception, Precision Drilling Corporation contributed both expertise and iron to help de-disk the project, Eavor said. Eavor-Lite presented an opportunity to use Precision’s High Performance, High Value services to drill the multilateral and connected horizontal wells, which was an important factor in achieving Eavor’s technical objectives. As it enters the commercialization phase, Eavor said it is working with Precision to source, train and export talent from Alberta’s drilling and energy services sector to Europe, the U.S. and Asia.
Another Alberta company, Shear Fluids Ltd., worked closely with Eavor to design, source and implement specialty materials with relevance to its Rock-Pipe completions technology, critical to its unique and cost-efficient non-casing completions methods.
“Using Alberta energy services equipment, people and expertise, this project highlights the opportunity to put Alberta’s energy services sector back to work and repurpose a significant amount of the old, suspended and orphaned wellsites in the province,” Eavor said.
The company’s technical innovations, now proven a commercial scale, have created the world’s most environmentally benign form of energy production, concluded Eavor. “The Eavor-Loop technology represents the opportunity to transform the world’s energy stack, redefine how energy is produced and address climate change.”
The Champion Series is brought to you by Fluor Canada, our Gold Sponsor, and Spartan Controls, our Silver Sponsor.
Fluor Canada: Since 1949, Fluor Canada has been involved in the engineering, procurement and construction of a wide range of energy related projects that are spread across the Canadian landscape. Fluor provides local, regional and international clients with full-service capabilities, which include economic evaluations, conceptual engineering, feasibility studies, program management, detailed engineering, procurement, transportation and logistics, modularization, fabrication, direct-hire construction, construction management, commissioning, start-up, operations and maintenance.
Spartan Controls: Spartan Controls was founded in 1963 and is an employee-owned company with people and infrastructure in 14 towns and cities across Western Canada. Spartan Controls provides a very broad range of industrial automation products & solutions to all the process industries.