I haven’t updated this particular topic area for awhile. I think this may hold the future for us all. Deep drilling for geothermal heat rates 3 pages in the New York Times Online. My. Maybe the rich and powerful are starting to get it.
Deep in Bedrock, Clean Energy and Quake Fears
BASEL, Switzerland — Markus O. Häring, a former oilman, was a hero in this city of medieval cathedrals and intense environmental passion three years ago, all because he had drilled a hole three miles deep near the corner of Neuhaus Street and Shafer Lane.
Christian Flieri for The New York Times
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He was prospecting for a vast source of clean, renewable energy that seemed straight out of a Jules Verne novel: the heat simmering within the earth’s bedrock.
All seemed to be going well — until Dec. 8, 2006, when the project set off an earthquake, shaking and damaging buildings and terrifying many in a city that, as every schoolchild here learns, had been devastated exactly 650 years before by a quake that sent two steeples of the Münster Cathedral tumbling into the Rhine.
Hastily shut down, Mr. Häring’s project was soon forgotten by nearly everyone outside Switzerland. As early as this week, though, an American start-up company, AltaRock Energy, will begin using nearly the same method to drill deep into ground laced with fault lines in an area two hours’ drive north of San Francisco.
Residents of the region, which straddles Lake and Sonoma Counties, have already been protesting swarms of smaller earthquakes set off by a less geologically invasive set of energy projects there. AltaRock officials said that they chose the spot in part because the history of mostly small quakes reassured them that the risks were limited.
Like the effort in Basel, the new project will tap geothermal energy by fracturing hard rock more than two miles deep to extract its heat. AltaRock, founded by Susan Petty, a veteran geothermal researcher, has secured more than $36 million from the Energy Department, several large venture-capital firms, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Google. AltaRock maintains that it will steer clear of large faults and that it can operate safely.
But in a report on seismic impact that AltaRock was required to file, the company failed to mention that the Basel program was shut down because of the earthquake it caused. AltaRock claimed it was uncertain that the project had caused the quake, even though Swiss government seismologists and officials on the Basel project agreed that it did. Nor did AltaRock mention the thousands of smaller earthquakes induced by the Basel project that continued for months after it shut down.
The California project is the first of dozens that could be operating in the United States in the next several years, driven by a push to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases and the Obama administration’s support for renewable energy.
IN Australia where it holds huge potential, as it does on the whole ring of fire.
Australia opens round 2 of the Geothermal Drilling Program
Enlarge ImageAustralia opens the second round of the Geothermal Drilling Program and Australia’s Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP invites geothermal companies to submit applications for funding under this round of the A$50 million (US$39.8 million) program.
Written by: lxrichter
Picture: Habanero, Drilling Rig, Geodynamics (source: Geodynamics)
Reported today, Australia opens the second round of the Geothermal Drilling Program with “The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP inviting geothermal companies to submit applications for funding under Round 2 of the A$50 million (US$39.8 million) Geothermal Drilling Program, which opened today.
Round 2 funding will provide grants of up to A$7 million (US$5.6 million) on a matching-funding basis to support the drilling of deep geothermal wells and help finance geothermal proof-of-concept projects.
Geothermal energy producers pump water below ground (sometimes as deep as 5 kilometers (3.1 miles)), where it is heated by ‘hot rocks’. The heat energy is then used to generate electricity.
Ferguson said: “Geoscience Australia estimates that if just one per cent of Australia’s geothermal energy was extracted it would equate to 26,000 times Australia’s total annual energy consumption. “Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source with enormous potential in Australia; however, the Government recognizes technical development costs are high.
“The Australian Government is pleased to be able to support drilling at the first stage of development as part of its A$4.5 billion (US$3.5 billion) Clean Energy Initiative.
“Geothermal energy is important because it has the capacity to produce baseload power, diversify Australia’s energy supply and increase our energy security.
“The Australian Government has set a target for 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation to come from renewable sources by 2020; a policy which will likely require an additional 45,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity generation from renewable sources.
HOT Rocks Rock