Chevron New Energies Japan, a subsidiary of Chevron USA, and Mitsui Oil Exploration (MOECO), have officially signed definitive agreements to move forward with the pilot testing of advanced geothermal technology. As per these agreements, Chevron and MOECO will collaborate on conducting pilot tests for an innovative geothermal technology known as advanced closed loop (ACL) technology.

In September 2022, Chevron New Energies International and MOECO established a joint collaboration agreement (JCA) aimed at advancing the exploration of advanced geothermal energy development and other emerging energy technologies. As part of this collaboration, Chevron New Energies Japan and MOECO have taken the initial step by executing agreements to conduct pilot testing, making it the first project envisioned under the JCA.

ACL technology operates by facilitating sub-surface heat exchange through conduction. It achieves this by circulating a working fluid from the surface through an underground well loop, allowing the utilisation of sub-surface geothermal heat for electricity generation via surface facilities. Unlike conventional geothermal technology, ACL technology does not involve direct extraction of hot water or steam from underground reservoirs.

As ACL gains momentum worldwide, it is considered a promising and innovative technology with the capacity to harness geothermal energy efficiently, reducing environmental impact and contributing to sustainable energy solutions.

The pilot test utilising ACL technology is set to take place in the Niseko region of Hokkaido, Japan. The primary objective of this pilot is to mitigate risks, assess scalability, and pave the way for the commercialisation of geothermal power generation based on ACL technology. Additionally, the pilot holds potential for utilising ACL as a heat resource.

MOECO and Chevron New Energies Japan will closely analyse the findings from this pilot test to explore potential commercial applications, both within Japan and on a global scale.

Chevron New Energies International Offsets and Emerging vice-president Barbara Harrison said: “Chevron believes that the future of energy is lower carbon and aims to be a leader in providing affordable, reliable and ever cleaner energy. Chevron and MOECO believe that geothermal can be a significant enabler in Japan’s lower carbon and net zero journey.

“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. This milestone confirms the commitment of Chevron New Energies Japan and MOECO to testing out novel geothermal technologies that have the possibility to unlock Japan’s geothermal potential while reducing potential community impact.”

MOECO CEO Hirotaka Hamamoto said: “We are pleased to launch this pilot test of ACL technology with Chevron New Energies. 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.

“We, MOECO, a member of the Mitsui & Co.’s group company, 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.”