Chevron and Moeco advancing energy pilot project in Japan

US supermajor Chevron and Japan’s Mitsui Oil Exploration Company (Moeco) are forging ahead with plans for a pilot project testing advanced geothermal technology in Japan.

Chevron New Energies and Moeco will conduct pilot tests of a developing novel geothermal technology, specifically advanced closed loop (ACL) technology, likely at the winter sports hotspot of Niseko on the island of Hokkaido.

The two companies last September signed a joint collaboration agreement (JCA) to further explore the technical and commercial feasibility of advanced geothermal energy development and other new energies technology. The proposed Niseko geothermal project is the first project contemplated by the JCA.

“Chevron and Moeco believe that geothermal can be a significant enabler in Japan’s lower carbon and net zero journey,” said Barbara Harrison, vice president of offsets and emerging, Chevron New Energies International.

“Geothermal development needs to be carried out with the final customer in mind and with consideration of potential impacts to the environment and the local community.”

Chevron noted that ACL technology involves subsurface heat exchange through conduction by circulating a working fluid from the surface through a loop of underground wells to generate electricity — through surface facilities — by utilising subsurface geothermal heat. The technology does not require direct extraction of hot water or steam from underground reservoirs, as is the case with conventional geothermal technology.

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“ACL is gaining momentum worldwide as a novel technology that has the potential to unlock geothermal energy globally in multiple locations, closer to load and customers, promoting geothermal development which can be a lower carbon energy solution and a reliable baseload,” noted the US energy giant.

The pilot test using this ACL technology is expected to be conducted in the Niseko region of Hokkaido, Japan, with the aim of de-risking, scaling and commercialising geothermal power generation based on ACL technology with additional potential as a heat resource.

Based on the learnings from this pilot project, the companies will consider commercial applications of the technology.

“ACL technology has the potential to unlock geothermal development in Japan and around the world. We expect to open up a new geothermal business by collaborating with Chevron New Energies, which has advanced technology and extensive experience to tackle this challenging project,” said Hirotaka Hamamoto, Moeco chief executive.

“We… aim to contribute to the stable supply of energy, achieving improved standards of living and sustainable development of society through the promotion of renewable energy projects such as geothermal power generation.”