SEARCH BLOG: GEOTHERMAL
These days, you have to be a believer in global warming or peak oil or market manipulation or you are considered a heathen. You can't look at issues with a cold eye and say "your ideal is based on wrong assumptions." One of those assumptions is that if you oppose some forms of alternative energy as not being reliable and sufficient, then you are a lackey for the oil cartel or the nuclear power companies.
For the near future, my bet is that nuclear power and coal are the only wide-spread alternatives to oil and natural gas that make any economic sense whatsoever. But that doesn't mean we can't selectively use other alternative such as solar and wind power as local, stop-gap solutions. To me, however, the really viable long-term solution for the entire world's energy needs is geothermal.
The following two extracts are from U.S. government studies done 31 years apart. The conclusions are quite similar; the effort to make use of the studies are the same... none. Still, you may want to read this post. By the time you finish, you may understand my reasoning.
From 1976 - ABSTRACT
This study is concerned with U.S. geothermal resources, their potential for1/3 of a century later...
commercial utilization by electric utilities between now and the year 2000, and
their impact on the utility industry.
The geothermal resources that are expected to be economic for near-term electrical use in the United States are almost all in moderate to high temperature hydrothermal systems, located in the western states. Known hydrothermal systems lie in geographically narrow, continuous tectonic belts marked by faults, volcanism, and earthquakes. Most undiscovered hydrothermal resources can be expected to lie in the same belts, which pass through the service areas of a number of major and many smaller western utilities.
USGS estimates of the resources in identified hydrothermal systems were extrapolated to the ndiscovered resources marked by hot springs, and further to the blind resources between hot spring areas within the tectonic belts. The resulting estimate of the total hydrothermal resource to a depth of 10,000 ft. is about 100,000 MWe for 30 years with about one-half in undiscovered blind resources, one-fourth in undiscovered hot spring resources, and one-fourth in identified systems.
Water rates and direct capital costs for geothermal power plants were evaluated as functions of resource temperature, together with costs and expected flowrates for geothermal wells. Combining these results with the temperature distribution of identified hydrothermal systems, a current supply curve for geothermal energy was made. This shows an estimated 20,000 MWe for 30 years potentially producible with current technology from identified resources for direct capital
costs of $800/KW or less.
The projected supply curve shows an estimated 30,000 to 60,000 MWe for 30 years potentially available at $800/KW or less, in 1976 dollars, taking account of estimated undiscovered resources and probable technical advances.
This new representation comprises 126 GW of resource potential nationally: 89 GW across all resource types in the Western regions and 37 GW mostly from coproduced potential in the non-Western regions. The total represented capacity is nearly the same for the Western regions as used in previous recent DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) benefits assessments. However, the Western region mix among specific resources is different. The updated supply features significantly lower levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for hydrothermal resources and somewhat lower LCOEs for EGS than used previously. Further, the inclusion of a significant amount of relatively low-cost coproduced resource further accentuates these cost differences and contributes to a significant increase in the total amount of geothermal resource that is likely to be technologically and economically.The estimate of 100+ GW in 1976 is about the same as the 126 GW in 2007. So, in 1/3 century, the government has made slight improvements in the estimates... but not much effort in the development of this resource.
In 2004, I wrote:
The virtually limitless amount of clean, geothermal energy available worldwide makes this energy source worth pursuing as a PERMANENT ALTERNATIVE to either oil or nuclear power. Geothermal energy would facilitate the non-polluting production of hydrogen fuel or electricity for battery-powered vehicles for our transportation needs.Did you miss that last link? That's the sneaky part that applies to you and several billion other people. There is more to geothermal energy than tapping the Yellowstone basin [as some commenters interpret my posts]. But the reality is that clean, energy independence is just waiting for us to act upon a couple of studies.
Solar, wind and even small-scale geothermal energy could be used as local sources of power to augment a vast network of geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is available now for your home.
Iceland is correct [don't let Homeland Security know that I wrote this]...