A recent whitepaper from geoscience tech consultancy CGG reveals an untapped and potentially transformative energy resource lying beneath the ocean floor. The unique conditions beneath the seabed offer the promise of more affordable and accessible geothermal power, providing a crucial supplement to solar and wind in the quest for a cleaner energy grid.

Geothermal energy, derived from the heat within the Earth, holds immense potential. The hot rocks beneath the Earth’s surface contain more energy than humanity could consume in a million years. Unlike solar and wind, geothermal energy is available 24/7, boasts manageable infrastructure costs, and is readily accessible worldwide. However, it currently contributes less than 1% to global energy production due to challenges in economically reaching the hot rocks beneath the Earth’s surface.

While geothermal exploration drilling can be expensive and unpredictable, companies traditionally focus on areas with known potential, such as the Indo-Pacific “Ring of Fire,” characterized by volcanic activity. CGG emphasizes that volcanic areas, while rich in potential, present complexities and variations requiring tailored approaches, with temperatures decreasing as one moves away from the volcano.

CGG suggests a significant and more consistent geothermal resource lies on the sea floor, particularly in areas where tectonic plates constantly move apart, creating new crust through “seafloor spreading.” These vast undersea rifts, estimated at around 65,000 square kilometers, offer reliable proximity to Earth’s magma, resulting in higher success rates and more consistent temperatures compared to onshore volcanic areas.

While these offshore resources present logistical challenges due to their distance from electrical grids, CGG proposes capturing fresh water from steam running through turbines and electrolyzing it to produce green hydrogen. This hydrogen can be transported or converted to ammonia for sale, with leftover fresh water as an additional saleable by-product.

CGG has applied for a patent on its innovative combination of geological, geophysical, and engineering technologies for exploring and developing offshore geothermal resources. The company emphasizes its commitment to ensuring accessibility by planning to license the idea at reasonable costs in developed countries and at easily affordable costs in underdeveloped countries.

While discussions on Levelized Cost of Energy (LCoE) are premature at this stage, offshore geothermal power holds promise in contributing significantly to the world’s clean energy needs. As advancements in technologies like ultra-deep particle beam drilling continue, offshore geothermal could emerge as a valuable and widely accessible source of clean energy.

By Impact Lab