Geothermal energy, drawn from natural heat underground, is arguably Earth’s greatest untapped source of clean energy. It can generate electricity and heat or cool everything from buildings and greenhouses to fish farms and industrial processes. However, geothermal only accounts for 0.2% of installed electric capacity worldwide and meets about 0.3% of heat demand. While tiny, volcanic Iceland derives 66% of its primary energy consumption from geothermal, the US produces just 1% of domestic energy from geothermal, though even at 1% the total geo output is far larger than Iceland’s. Can new technology give geothermal a bigger role in decarbonizing the global economy?
Dandelion CEO Kathy Hannun and Quaise CEO Carlos Araque joined the SOSV Climate Tech Summit (Oct. 25-26) for a panel on rethinking and scaling geothermal. Born at X, Alphabet’s moonshot factory, Dandelion brings geothermal heating and cooling to residential homes. Dandelion’s proprietary drills make a hole that is only a few inches wide, minimizing the cost for consumers and the impact on their property. Investors in Dandelion’s $30 million Series B included Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, GV, and NEA. Check out the recorded session below.
Quaise is developing a drill that uses a gyrotron—a microwave-emitting beam device—that vaporizes boreholes through rock to reach 20 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, where geothermal energy is virtually limitless. Quaise aims to have a working system by 2026 and “repower” a fossil-fired plant with geothermal steam by 2028. Its $52 million Series A, led by Safar Partners and expanded by TechEnergy Ventures, speaks to the high capital demands of deep geothermal.
Candice Ammori, Founder of The Climate Vine, who also founded On Deck’s Climate Tech Program and Fellowship, moderated the panel.
What roadblocks prevent wider adoption of this proven energy source? Can geothermal energy scale in time to help us reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050?
Carlos Araque is CEO of Quaise, a geothermal energy company that has raised $70 million. Previously, Araque was Technical Director for The Engine, MIT’s fund and platform to commercialize world-changing ideas. At The Engine, Carlos discovered the work of Dr. Paul Woskov and stepped up to commercialize his disruptive millimeter wave drilling technology for deep geothermal heat access.
Kathy Hannun is the Co-Founder and President of Dandelion Energy, the largest home geothermal company in the United States. Before founding Dandelion, she was a Rapid Evaluator at X, Alphabet’s innovation lab, where she identified business opportunities to harness technology for large-scale positive impact. She started Dandelion as an X project and then launched it as an independent startup in 2017.