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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The VC arms of Chevron and BP are funding Eavor, a startup looking to commercialize a form of geothermal energy that it says can provide large-scale power in many regions worldwide.

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of momentum and investor interest behind technology that could significantly scale up geothermal.

  • It's a very old power and heat source that remains very niche compared to the immense theoretical potential of tapping high subsurface temperatures.

The big picture: The participation of Chevron and BP shows how oil giants are diversifying into clean energy — and in this case, a form of geothermal that borrows the industry's drilling and geological know-how.

Driving the news: Calgary-based Eavor this morning announced a $40 million funding round.

  • Other backers are investment firms Temasek, BDC Capital, and Vickers Venture Partners, and Eversource.
  • "These investments, and the partnerships formed around them, are critical to the commercialization of the technology and to help Eavor scale its already extensive project pipeline," the announcement states.
  • The company's development pipeline includes planned or potential potential projects in Europe, Canada and elsewhere.
  • The amounts coming from the different funders was not disclosed and Eavor declined to offer a breakdown.

How it works: Geothermal energy can come from multiple ways of accessing high-temperature underground aquifers and rock formations.

Eavor's effort aims to commercialize a "closed loop" system in which deep wells are connected underground with lateral connections.

  • In the "closed" system, fluids are circulated through the system and heated by high underground temperatures, forming what they call a "massive subsurface radiator."
  • The process is meant to operate without energy-consuming pumps — instead relying on the natural effect of hot fluid rising and cool fluid falling.
  • The thermal energy brought to the surface can be used for direct heating or converted to power.
  • The method could provide both baseload power and act as a dispatchable battery to complement wind and solar, the company said.

Yes, but: "To grow as a national solution, geothermal must overcome significant technical and non-technical barriers in order to reduce cost and risk," noted a major 2019 Energy Department analysis (h/t Yale Environment 360).

  • That DOE report, however, sees tech, cost and regulatory improvements providing the potential for geothermal to grow 26-fold to provide 60 gigawatts of power capacity in the U.S. by 2050.

The intrigue: The emerging forms of geothermal involve tricky and deep subsurface technologies.

  • They rely in part on the same kind of drilling advances used in the oil-and-gas sector — including use of lateral-well tech.
  • That's not lost on the oilfield services industry, with companies including Baker Hughes and Schlumberger seeing growth potential.

Go deeper: Geothermal energy is poised for a big breakout (Vox)

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Katie Ledecky in Tokyo. Photo: Ding Xu/Xinhua via Getty Images

🚨: Simone Biles won't compete in individual vault or uneven bars

🏊‍♀️: Katie Ledecky wins gold in women's 800m freestyle

🏊: Caeleb Dressel breaks world record in men's 100m butterfly, 3rd gold

🇬🇧: Britain wins gold in first-ever Olympic mixed 4x100m medley relay

🎾: Novak Djokovic defeated in Olympic semi-finals

💻: Japan tests teleporting games and "remote cheering"

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Updated 4 hours ago - Sports

Simone Biles won't compete in individual vault or uneven bars Olympic finals

Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

Simone Biles will not compete in the individual vault or uneven bars finals at the Tokyo Olympics, USA Gymnastics announced Friday.

Why it matters: USA Gymnastics said Biles, who previously withdrew from the individual all-around and team finals to prioritize her mental health, will continue to be evaluated to determine if she'll compete in the balance beam or floor exercise events.

4 hours ago - Sports

American Katie Ledecky wins Olympic gold in women's 800m freestyle

USA's Katie Ledecky reacts after taking gold in the final of the women's 800m freestyle race. Photo: Odd Anderson/AFP via Getty Images

American superstar swimmer Katie Ledecky grabbed her second gold medal of this year's Olympic Games, winning the women's 800-meter freestyle race Saturday in Tokyo.

Driving the news: Ledecky, who holds the world record in the 800m freestyle, is considered one of the best women swimmers of all time. Saturday's final marks her third straight Olympic gold in the event.