If there was a popularity contest for drill bits, the tricone would win hands down. Geothermal energy, though not as well-known as the tricone, is an increasingly hot topic around the globe. To understand why, you need only look at its advantages, drawbacks and prospects for growth in the years to come.
For years, drilling and the tricone have been focused on the extraction of oil and natural gas. But with the steady depletion of these resources through tricone drilling, alternatives are needed.
What is it?
That’s where geothermal energy comes in. By drilling deep underground with the tricone, we can access a powerful heat source to turn water into steam, run it through a turbine and produce electricity. Once accessed through tricone drilling, geothermal energy provides power for a number of applications.
What’s so great about it?
Anyone who’s been involved with tricone drilling knows first-hand about the advantages of a tricone. In addition to its unparalleled quality, the tricone is durable, reliable and precise.
So why choose geothermal energy to access with the tricone?
1. Running Costs: Like the tricone, geothermal energy is cost effective, with running expenses approximately 80% less than for fossil fuels. Also, since it doesn’t involve fuel like other substances accessed by the tricone, geothermal energy entails a fairly small outlay for transportation, purchasing and plant clean up.
2. Pollution: Unlike some resources accessed with tricone drilling, geothermal energy is relatively friendly to the environment. While there is some pollution involved, it pales next to conventional targets of the tricone like coal and fossil fuels. As well, the carbon footprint generated by geothermal power plants is minimal compared to other tricone drilling projects.
3. Stability: As an alternative to traditional tricone drilled material, geothermal energy is more reliable than other options like solar or wind power that rely heavily on the weather. Consequently, geothermal power plants are ideally suited to meeting the base load energy requirements. They also benefit from a high capacity factor, in that their actual output of power closely matches the total installed capacity.
4. Renewability: Although our supplies of many energy staples extracted with the tricone are massive, they are also finite. This is a major reason that many countries are focusing more of their tricone efforts on geothermal energy. Not only is it renewable in that it’s a resource that is naturally replenished, but it sustains its own consumption rate where fossil fuels reached by tricone drilling do not.
What’s the catch?
While the tricone really has no downside, most things are not that fortunate, and geothermal energy is no exception:
1. Expensive Start up: Traditional tricone drilling projects vary widely in their budgets. It’s one reason that the tricone is the drill bit of choice for so many of them. Not only is the tricone available in different price ranges, but there are excellent used tricone bits available that are equally reliable. On the other hand, most commercial geothermal projects come with a high price tag. Deep drilling with the tricone is required, and the cost of drilling greatly increases with depth.
2. Lack of Widespread Use: Because geothermal energy has yet to be widely accepted, there is a shortage of skilled workers and suitable site locations. It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation, in that the low level of usage is in itself a hindrance to achieving greater acceptance.
Where do we go from here?
In spite of its challenges, geothermal energy is one of the few renewable energy sources that offers continuous baseload power. As such, it can be a key player in moving us towards cleaner, more sustainable energy.
As research reduces drilling costs and enhances plant efficiency, more countries are likely to explore this option. The next chapter has yet to be written, but one thing is for sure. The potential to improve the planet by tapping into its own heat power makes for a heartwarming story.