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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

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Americans increasingly see China as an enemy

One in three Americans, and a majority of Republicans, now view China as an enemy of the United States, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: Just 9% of Americans consider China a "partner," while 55% see Beijing as a "competitor" and 34% as an "enemy."

Scoop: Leaked HHS docs spotlight Biden's child migrant dilemma

A group of undocumented immigrants walk toward a Customs and Border Patrol station after being apprehended. Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fresh internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show how quickly the number of child migrants crossing the border is overwhelming the administration's stretched resources.

Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Mounting emissions data paints bleak picture on Paris climate goals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Researchers keep finding new ways to reveal that nations are together showing very few signs of getting on track to meet the Paris Agreement's goals.

One big question: That's whether a spate of recent analyses to that effect, and scientific reports coming later this year, will move the needle on meaningful new policies (not just targets).