Monday, November 07, 2011

New Research Reveals Huge Geothermal Resources in U.S. Accessible with New Advanced Technology



GIZMAG.COM -- "As a green energy source, geothermal heat is tough to beat, but until recently, it was believed to be economically feasible only in areas with shallow tectonic (volcanic) activity. Now, with a generous grant from Google.org, the search engine giant's philanthropic arm, two scientists from Southern Methodist University (SMU) have pooled together the results from more than 35,000 data sites to paint a very different, almost rosy, energy picture for the United States and, indeed, the world.

We now know that potentially exploitable EGS resources can be found in all 50 U.S. states and countless regions around the globe as well, so it's only a matter of time before abundant clean energy begins to flow from tapping into that massive molten furnace churning below our feet. 

SMU Geothermal Lab Coordinator Maria Richards and Geophysics professor David Blackwell's research has revealed, however, that a much larger portion of the earth's crust can yield usable energy than was previously thought, especially in the eastern U.S. The project's findings indicate that, with advanced technology already available, the continental U.S. harbors a staggering 2,980,000 MW of potential energy! That's especially impressive considering the current global geothermal generating capacity is only 9,000MW.

"Both Google and the SMU researchers are fundamentally changing the way we look at how we can use the heat of the Earth to meet our energy needs, and by doing so are making significant contributions to enhancing our national security and environmental quality," said Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association.

To view the new Enhanced Geothermal Systems maps constructed with SMU's data , go here to get the latest version of Google Earth, then download and open the file here."

MP: Watch video above for an overview of EGS potential.  This is one more reason that "peak oil" is "peak idiocy" (credit to Mike Munger for that term).  

13 Comments:

At 11/07/2011 11:01 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Dr Perry,

"This is one more reason that "peak oil" is 'peak idiocy.'"

How am I going to fill my gas tank with geothermal energy?

 
At 11/07/2011 11:16 AM, Blogger FactsAreFriendly said...

I am ignorant about geothermal and its quantity.

Are there any significant negative implications regarding the use of geothermal over long periods of time?

How will the radical environmental/political organizations attack this new technology? What apocalyptic effect will they forecast?

Thanks.

Dwight Oglesby

 
At 11/07/2011 11:22 AM, Blogger Kevin Graham said...

Paul,

You asked "How am I going to fill my gas tank with geothermal energy"

I am a mechanical engineer. Mechancal engineers specialize in changing one type of energy into another. Like heat into electricity (turbine), gasoline into rotating a shaft that moves your car (thermodynamics), or wind into turning a shaft that generates electricity (wind power).

You give me energy and I change it into any form you want, including moving your butt down the street.

Regards,
Kevin

 
At 11/07/2011 12:31 PM, Blogger Les Johnson said...

Geothermal is not a panacea. Its expensive, and as the Australians are finding, its not easy to put into production.

Looking at the Google map shows some problems right away. They show temperatures of 50 to 100 deg C at 6500 meters. That is not hot enough to drive steam turbines. Its barely hot enough for a bath.

The other obvious problem is the actual temperature itself. Everywhere in the world I have worked, its much hotter, much shallower than they show. In Canada, its at least 100 deg C at 3000 meters. In North Africa its 2500 meters to reach 100 deg C.

Should be better, than right? Not really. First, how does one trust data that is obviously wonky.

Second, Low temperature gethermal (150 deg C or less) is mostly only good for heating. Its not sufficient to generate power in most cases.

Third, at the 6500 meter on the map, you should be able to get bottom hole static temps (BHST) of 180 to 210 deg C. Or anywhere in the world, for that matter. But it will cost $50 to $100 million per doublet well. (you need to drill 2 wells. One is where water is injected, the other recovers steam.) About 1/2 the cost of geothermal is in drilling the wells.

Generation will be 4 to 5 Mw for that investment. To compare, for a gas powered plant, it costs about 400-500 million for a gigawatt. For 5 times the costs, you can can get 25 times the output.

 
At 11/07/2011 12:46 PM, Blogger geoih said...

I smell subsidies!

 
At 11/07/2011 12:58 PM, Blogger Marko said...

This will cause the heat in the earth to be transferred into the atmosphere, as well as dangerous emissions of water vapor, the most potent green house gas. This will cause the earth to heat even more, which will cause glaciers to melt, which will cause the heads of liberals to explode. I am for it.

Aren't there other ways to convert heat to electricity besides turbines?

 
At 11/07/2011 1:58 PM, Blogger Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

"How will the radical environmental/political organizations attack this new technology? What apocalyptic effect will they forecast?"

Are you kidding? Geothermal is nuclear energy. We know how the left feels about nuclear energy. We are all gonna die if we use geothermal energy!

 
At 11/07/2011 2:19 PM, Blogger MikeWBL said...

Why not extract the heat from all the "hot air" from our politicians? :-)

 
At 11/07/2011 2:20 PM, Blogger MikeWBL said...

Why not extract the heat from all the "hot air" from our politicians? :-)

 
At 11/07/2011 2:22 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"How am I going to fill my gas tank with geothermal energy?"

actually, there are a number of ways to do it.

we just saw a full commercial scale plant for turning non recyclable plastics into synthetic oil that can be refined to gasoline.

takes quite a bit of energy to do it, but you are producing oil at $27-30/bbl.

locate one on top of a geothermal cell, and you might be able to do it much more cheaply.

les, if you have to drill that deep, geothermal is prohibitively expensive.

the near term will be dominated by near surface cells of heat.

we have looked at a project in the carribean (whose electricity costs are sky high). would make for a very interesting oppty and does not require deep drilling.

the project is underway now on nevis.

given their banking laws, it would be an amazing place to put a datacenter.

 
At 11/07/2011 5:47 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> You give me energy and I change it into any form you want, including moving your butt down the street.

Hell, I can do that for him with mere shoe leather. Who needs expensive GT power plants for that task?

:^D

 
At 11/08/2011 1:44 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

FAF: "Are there any significant negative implications regarding the use of geothermal over long periods of time?"

Well, by transferring heat from the interior to the exterior of the Earth, the process of cooling is hastened, so that Earth might cool to the temperature of surrounding space in 4.59 instead of 4.6 billion years.

"How will the radical environmental/political organizations attack this new technology? What apocalyptic effect will they forecast?"

While it's impossible to predict what those irrational jokers will whine about next, the additional heat may be seen to aggravate global warming, unless waste heat can be vented directly to the stratosphere.

 
At 11/08/2011 3:42 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

MP: Watch video above for an overview of EGS potential. This is one more reason that "peak oil" is "peak idiocy"

I have been looking at geothermal investments for the better part of a decade. The history of the industry is not very good as there have been bankruptcy after bankruptcy. The people involved simply go to the new acquirer of the old assets and spin their tales again and again. While I do not discount the ability for someone to make some profit on the process things are not exactly as simple as the naive optimists believe.

 

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