Geothermal energy is often overlooked as the "other" renewable energy. Capping geysers to harness their energy is difficult, and the sites where these resources exist are not widespread. But companies are exploring new methods of obtaining energy from geothermal sources by stimulating accessible geologic formations to generate hot water and steam for energy production.
A demonstration project being run by AltaRock Energy is underway in the Deschutes National Forest near Bend, Oregon to explore the viability of this technique. AltaRock is using "hot rocks" and an approach called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) for energy production. This process uses accessible geological formations which are hot enough to generate steam for power generation, but which are not naturally geysers. The system is meant to be closed-loop, with the water re-cooled and returned through the system, so that there is less impact on local water supply. However, the demonstration will use somewhere between 73 and 142 million gallons of water, so the company is also purchasing Deschutes River Conservancy mitigation credits to offset its water consumption during the project.
The process also calls for developing fracture zones in the rock, which may be too reminiscent of natural gas "fracking" for widespread acceptance of the technique. But, instead of an extraction process, the geothermal approach will be injecting water into the rocks. The proposed system is laid out in more detail on a poster presentation of the core concepts for the test project. According to the company, "EGS has the potential to provide as much as 10 percent of the nation's energy needs within the course of a generation."
via: Science Friday
written by Ronald Brak, February 16, 2012
written by Drilling Equipment Man, February 17, 2012
written by Sapoty Brook, February 25, 2012
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