A small geothermal power plant with green fields and a cloudy blue sky in the background.

Who will benefit from heat power?

When I think about the heat power industry today, it reminds me of when solar power was new. Everyone was excited and you could immediately see the potential.”– Susanne Liljefors Krueger, Investment Advisor

As Susanne Liljefors Krueger stated above, there is a lot of excitement right now around heat power – and renewable energy in general.

You only have to browse the last 48 hours of news to see that renewable energy is gaining unstoppable momentum:

  • More and more countries, states, cities and companies have committed to switching.
  • Still others are implementing CO2 taxes – Canada’s takes effect this spring
  • The world’s biggest oil companies are diversifying – to the tune of $2 billion a year in Shell’s case in the UK.
  • Even though coal emissions are up around the globe, so too is the ongoing divestment and disengagement in new coal-burning facilities in Asia.
  • In the U.S., in the state of Arizona alone, a new report showed that “renewable energy development has contributed more than $9 billion to the economy since 2000.” These projects also created 17,971 jobs with $1.2 billion in wages, and brought in $16.7 million in tax revenues.
    This indicates a massive opportunity for investors that can fund renewable energy projects, for utilities to increase their margins as the cost of renewables decreases, and for landowners to lease their properties for solar, wind and heat power projects.

In the industrial sector it’s the steel mills, cement plants, glass producers, and heavy genset users that have the most to gain (or lose). Energy-intensive industries like these should be asking themselves:

  • How high do electricity prices have to get before it makes more sense to produce it on site?
  • How much does energy inefficiency really cost? And:
  • When will the penalties for producing CO2 and other greenhouse gases get so high that it’s cost-prohibitive to do business?
    Those who can make the switch soonest will likely see better returns in the long run. But until recently, there has been a big hitch in the renewable energy plan: no green baseload.

The search for a green baseload is over

Where there is hydropower, there is green baseload energy. But most of the world does not have access to hydropower. Geothermal plants, typically located along the Ring of Fire, also provide a (mostly) green baseload. But they are typically large, customized plants that are difficult to finance, expensive to maintain, and nearly impossible to adjust for increases or decreases in load or production capacity.

For years the hunt was on for a renewable energy that could run around the clock, and not cost a fortune to implement. In other words, electricity as easy and quick to monetize as a solar panel or wind turbine – but without the intermittency issues.

This is the problem we set out to solve at Climeon. Technologies like ours make it possible to create a green baseload. It’s one of the big reasons we attracted the interest of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the fund created to provide the world with electricity without contributing to climate change.

Knowing that useable heat exists below most of the earth’s surface, our engineers designed a portable unit that can harness low-temperature heat. Heat power can also be harnessed from the industrial heat emissions of gensets, kilns and blast furnaces. While large geothermal plants can take ten years to permit, plan, build and bring online, our units require 3-10 months. They are also stackable and scalable, so they can be combined with other heat power units, or why not with another green electricity like solar or wind?

Ride on the heat train

I asked in my headline: Who will benefit from heat power? The answer is everyone. We will all benefit from cleaner air, and a reduction in the pace of global warming.

But some will benefit more directly and more immediately. Like the farmers who are diversifying from soybeans to solar, a Climeon unit could transform many people’s livelihoods. Solar and wind power operators will benefit from adding green baseload power to create microgrids.

As my colleagues have written in other articles, the oil industry in particular has a massive opportunity to capitalize on the heat power potential of both its abandoned and existing wells. And as I mentioned above, many heavy industries will benefit from switching to green baseload power before carbon taxes become the norm.

We see a future where, combined other renewable energies, heat power will make it possible for whole countries to be self-sustaining. But even today, we are helping remote communities to do this.

There are some who may have seen this coming – but many who have not. Still others will wait until the train has left the station before they become interested. But let there be no mistake, to borrow another train metaphor: the market for heat power is moving full-steam ahead. Are you onboard?

  • If you own other types of energy investments, have you considered how heat power could fit into the mix?
  • If you operate a genset, steel mill, cement foundry, glassworks – have you looked into the potential gains of capitalizing on your waste heat?
  • Are you interested in funding a heat power project?

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