Geothermal Energy: The Great COP25 Climate Surprise?

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

For a long time Geothermal energy has been an expensive joke, even for people who claim solar and wind power is viable. History is littered with Geothermal projects which failed to live up to their early promise, such as the Tim Flannery inspired Cooper Basin project, which obliterated at least $90 million in government grant money before the project was abandoned.

But there are some hints that COP25 might include an attempt to breath new government money into this failed renewable energy technology.

From Chile, posted in April this year;

Chile and the role of Geothermal – preparing for the COP25 climate talks

Alexander Richter 30 Apr 2019

Diego Morata, Director of the Center of Excellence in Geothermal Energy of the Andes of Chile (CEGA), highlights the potential role of geothermal in the goal of cleaning the energy matrix of fossil fuels and the opportunity presented in the COP 25 climate talks to be hosted in Santiago de Chile, December 2-13, 2019.

In December 2019, Chile will be hosting the COP25 climate talks in Santiago. This provides a unique opportunity for the country and the geothermal sector to highlight the role it could play in the future energy mix of Chile.

Diego Morata, Director of the Center of Excellence in Geothermal Energy of the Andes of Chile, presents an interesting analysis about the role of geothermal in the goal of cleaning the energy matrix of fossil fuels Chile and the opportunity presented in the Convention United Nations Framework on Climate Change No. 25, which will be held in Santiago de Chile from December 2 to 13, 2019 (see the government communication in this link)

We share a copy of what was raised by Diego Morata in a column published in the newspaper El Mostrador, and was published by our sister publication, PiensaGeotermia.

“There is a big difference between stopping a change and curbing a disaster. The first can afford long solution times, the second requires decisive actions. During the last session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP), the most powerful and mediatic statement warned us of the urgency: “You only talk about going ahead with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess , even when the only sensible thing they can do is put on the emergency brake “, the speech came from a teenage activist, the Swedish Greta Thumberg, and her photos and words are the memories that last the most today, not only because of the novelty of the interlocutor, but because their declarations shine an awkward truth: that the authorities still do not manage to take concrete agreements to reduce the increase of the temperature of the planet. What can Chile contribute to this scenario full of wilful declarations and little action now that we will host the next COP in December?

During the next COP 25 we will be the focus of global attention on climate change. What are we going to tell Greta? It is postulated that an increase of 2ºC in the temperature of the planet could bring serious consequences (irreversible?) For humanity. Climate change is a scientifically proven reality, the temperature of the Earth has been increasing progressively, and a large part of the scientific community accepts that we have entered the Anthropocene, a new geological time where the effect of man in Earth’s climate These are the times in which Greta will grow up, who reminds us that “you say that you love your children, but they are robbing you of your future”.

Given this pessimistic scenario, Chile has good news to contribute. Our country has been recognized internationally as an example in the promotion and development of renewable energies, the development of solar energy positions it as the third national energy source. We must applaud this fact and continue on that path, deeper, deeper, underground. As well as the Sun, we are fortunate to have another inexhaustible renewable energy under our feet, geothermal energy, which would allow us to free our matrix of fossil fuels. We have already demonstrated as a country that geothermal electricity can be generated. ”

Source: statement sent via email by Diego Morata for publication via PiensaGeotermia – the Spanish language platform of ThinkGeoEnergy

http://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/chile-and-the-role-of-geothermal-preparing-for-the-cop25-climate-talks/

The allure of Geothermal energy is a promise of relief from the fatal intermittency which plagues wind and solar. All it would take is a magical breakthrough to make geothermal economically viable – and a claimed breakthrough has miraculously appeared, just in time for COP25.

Tech Breakthrough Could Spark A Geothermal Energy Boom

PUBLISHER Oilprice.com PUBLISHED NOV 20, 2019 8:39AM EST

Geothermal energy is often billed as one of “the cleanest energy sources” –and with good reason. It’s carbon-free, renewable, and efficient. Even those stoic anti-hyperbolists over at the United States Department of Energy sing its praises, saying, “this vital, clean energy resource supplies renewable power around the clock and emits little or no greenhouse gases — all while requiring a small environmental footprint to develop.”

While geothermal is one of the superheroes of clean energy production, however, it still has a lot of room for improvement. First and foremost, it needs to be massively scaled up in order to have any real environmental impact or significant market share compared to where it stands now, a speck in the giant shadow of fossil fuels. What’s more, there are significant barriers and high costs to the initial phases of exploration and infrastructure. 

Luckily, there has recently been an important breakthrough in the field of geothermal energy exploration and finding those geothermal hotspots (so to speak) thanks to a team of research scientists from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, based in Potsdam. The scientists’ findings, published this month in a Scientific Reports journal article titled “Geothermal sweetspots identified in a volcanic lake integrating bathymetry and fluid chemistry,” have solved the issue of finding underwater drilling sites by identifying a method that allows the mapping of submerged geological structures in order to determine inflow information essential for developing geothermal energy production.

Read more: https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/tech-breakthrough-could-spark-a-geothermal-energy-boom-2019-11-20

If entrepreneurs and their backers want to defy the odds, take risks, and reap rewards if their investments pay off, I don’t think any of us have a problem with that.

But if I am right, I have a funny feeling the COP25 organizers will be seeking lots of government support for their revolutionary idea. Green energy projects all seem to require large infusions of government money, not because they are economically unviable of course, but it is critically important to get things moving quickly because of the urgency of our global climate crisis.

And if some of the projects don’t work out, well who cares about money? The future of the world is in the balance!

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117 thoughts on “Geothermal Energy: The Great COP25 Climate Surprise?

    • More falsehoods and commenters that provide links that rebut their falsehoods.

      From the link provided.

      “French geothermal developer Fonroche Géothermie refutes links of its drilling activities at its geothermal project in Vendenheim, Alsace”

      • Read the rest of the article ?
        The small earthquakes recorded in Strasbourg still raise questions. Several scientists have suggested that geothermal activities could be the cause of these shocks. The earthquake of November 13 has been described as an “induced event” by the French Seismological Central Bureau and the National Seismic Surveillance Network of the National Seismic Surveillance Network (BCSF-RéNaSS) in Strasbourg. “An induced earthquake is an earthquake produced directly or indirectly by human activities,” the two organizations said in a statement.
        Of course the GT enterprise “refutes” there possible responsability, mainstream modelling scientists of climate also refute measured facts 😀

        • The entire Rhine valley is seismically quite active.
          I was there in Colmar the night a quite strong quake took place originating in the Vosges nr St Die.
          There have been real earthquakes that have rattled Strasbourg over decades, and Basel was once flattened by one.
          Some well known hot spots exist from previous volcanic activity including the large hill behind Freiburg being an extinct one, with hot springs all over the region.
          Why not extract some of the heat to generate power?
          Makes sense to me.

          If the government is intent on closing Fessenheim, replacing it with useless bits that are only working in the day, and when the wind blows, then Alsace is gonna have a pretty big shortfall in energy production, you know the stuff that powers all the TGVs made locally in Belfort.

          For anyone to claim drilling in this valley could not make certain things jump around is a bit like playing with bits of active california, or drilling holes in Solfatara nr Naples.
          Risks are fun issues, and nobody really knows the stats.

          • Why must we stop fracking in the UK because of the risk of very minor earthquakes, yet it is perfectly OK to do very similar drilling for geothermal energy?
            Those who object to fracking must accept solar and wind farms to provide their electricity.

          • Drilling does not cause earthquakes anymore than drawing blood causes seizures, however, both if done poorly can cause a mess.
            Geothermal extraction dos not involve injecting high pressure fluids into the ground to create and force open cracks that were not previously there. The simply drill a well bore.
            For energy generation, heat exchangers are lowered into the well bores to extract the thermal energy. Closed loop systems of thermal working fluid is circulated through the exchangers to regenerate steam.

          • pigs_in_space
            Hot springs do not create latent heat of vaporization needed to drive turbines. Maybe you can create a local community hot water loop but the piping needs special alloys to resist chemical content of the water or a really costly purification system—run by bureaucrats.
            Better off creating a tourist trap that can offset operational expenses.

        • https://www.comsol.com/blogs/modeling-geothermal-processes-comsol-software/

          “Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) were developed to exploit geothermal resources in dry and impermeable rocks or hard dry rocks (HDR), by hydraulic fracturing,”

          In the UK fracking has been directly linked to minor earth tremors

          https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-45963315

          Fracking has now been banned? Well not quite, there are several geothermal energy projects still going ahead which will require fracking!!!!!

          • From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service site:

            “The 1972 amendments increased civil penalties for violating provisions of the Act to a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment with $10,000 or not more than two years in prison for a second conviction. Felony convictions carry a maximum fine of $250,000 or two years of imprisonment.Mar 4, 2019”

            Unless you are operating a Government Subsidized bird chopping Windmill…then IT’S OK to kill protected species…no fines involved.

            No fines involved.

            Wind turbines IN THE NUMBERS PROPOSED could wipe out insect populations that many protected species depend upon…and threaten their extinction.

            https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/06/26/why-wind-turbines-threaten-endangered-species-with-extinction/amp/

            It appears that Liberals are not subject to any laws from my observations. And they frequently act lawlessly…sheltered from bad publicity by their puppets and allies in the Press.

            They don’t really care about minorities or the environment or our laws. Democrats only care about the accumulation of powee…which they always abuse when they get it.

    • Solving geothermal energy’s earthquake problem
      https://phys.org/news/2019-05-geothermal-energy-earthquake-problem.html

      “Natural geothermal systems are an important source of clean energy. But they are rare and pretty much tapped out. If we can figure out how to safely develop power plants based on enhanced geothermal systems technology, it’s going to have huge benefits for all of us as a low-carbon option for electricity and space heating.”

      https://phys.org/news/2019-05-geothermal-energy-earthquake-problem.html

      Airplanes used to be unsafe but we figured out how to make them safe. Enhanced Geothermal is still pretty young.

    • Rrom personal experience I would say that geothermal fields during their development do induce minor earthquakes.

      I live on one of the larger geothermal fields in New Zealand. In my childhood the initial development of the field occurred, to produce geothermal steam for the local mills. (Incidentally the geothermal resource was a major contributing factor for the location of these mills). During this time whenever a new bore was completed seismic activity increased significantly, then decreased until another bore came on line when it again increased. With the completion of the planned development seismic activity dropped off to zero (excluding a major tectonic event many years later).

      The field in later years has been developed for a geothermal power station. When new bores were brought on line once again minor quakes became common but since the station has been operating continuously these have dropped off to what we would consider to be normal background activity.

  1. I care about the money I earn, being confiscated, and then literally thrown down a hole.
    Good ideas attract funding. Bad ideas require government funding.
    Because it is “such an emergency” that it can’t wait for the smart people to invest. The dumb people must show them the way.

      • Isn’t the problem the thermal conductivity of the rock? You get lots of heat out at first, then it’s not so hot down there, and heat is reluctant to flow through hard rock. Yes you can frack it, but don’t you get diminishing returns?

        • Exactly… You are tapping into a storage of heat in the rocks, and they will cool faster then they are replenished with heat. You would need to tap into very hot rock close to magma to avoid this problem, and that in itself might create much larger problems.

          There is one way to extract heat from the earth’s geology that is a proven winner – extract radioactive elements and let them interact in a nuclear reactor.

  2. There’s nothing new about geothermal power plants. Iceland is a good example.

    Yet, does the world want knuckleheads punching holes in the mantle?

    What could go wrong?

  3. Large geothermal plant operating since 1958 in Wairakei, center of north Island near Lake Taupo. Of course Lake Taupo a super volcano, will leave to others to decide if this was ever a good idea historically. Apparently from what I can find in a few mins research provides about 5% of north islands power.

    • I work at Wairakei. It is a different geothermal system to Lake Taupo. It produces about 700GWh a year, down from its maximum of 1250GWh, as new stations built to use the same resource replace it.
      If the Lake erupts (it is overdue), then there is probably few places in the North Island that would survive unscathed.

      • I had just migrated to Wellington, NZ, when Ruapehu erupted in late 1995. Most of my workmates the next day drove up to have a look close up. When Taupo goes up, like it did to create the lake, there won’t be much left of the north island. I have pictures of the ash layer around the area from that eruption. Rotorua is another hot spot but no power is generated there AFAIK and the local authorities banned people from taping in to the thermal heat to heat pools etc.

  4. Doesn’t geothermal have the same issue as hydro, it is viable at few locations only?

    It is great if Potsdam has found better analyses methods to find those viable spots, which will encourage investors. However, please don’t let the UN State invest, they are not good protectors of our money and the world is in no need to be dependent on geothermal.

      • But couldn’t that lead to frack…err…cracking of Gaia the Holy one? This needs a special Commission of Enquiry set up by the Wind and Solar Internationale to investigate whether or not an Environmental Impact Study should go ahead for starters. Send more grants.

      • “depending on the economic limits of drill depth”

        Geothermal is a business and economic opportunity. As mentioned in several posts here, geothermal has been exploited for decades, where feasible. It is socially unjust to make it feasible through artificial means, through UN dictated tax and rate injections. Let the business run by itself.
        That said, there may be circumstances where the state may go in with credits for large national projects, but the project should still be sound business, and not something you do, because lobbyists persuade politicians to participate in a scam.

  5. In order for a lot of the newer yet to be developed ultra deep geothermal wells that will be drilled to where the ground temps are much hotter, it will require massive fracking of the host rock to ensure that the water can make contact and turn to steam. Now that the word ‘fracking’ is a cuss word to the rabid environmentalists, will that put a stop to non traditional geothermal? Geothermal works fairly reliable in USA, Iceland, Philippines, Costa Rica etc, where there is a lot of suitable (volcanic) sites to develop, but will it work in not so suitable sites if it involves a lot of deep water injection wells and fracking for the geothermal process to work?

    • Earthling2
      Another limitation is the availability of water to inject in the EGS. There are hot spots in the Basin and Range province, but water is scarce and, with the exception of a few small cities, little demand for the power.

      • Plus Clyde, any steam and water vapor escaping from this closed arrangement is a newly made GHG, far more potent than the demonic CO2 now responsible for all ills on the planet. Most of the steam will be condensed back to water, but you make a good point about there being sufficient suitable water in the first pace in many places for this to work.

  6. So they are using vile greta to get funding from world government’s, who in turn tax us hard working folk😐

    Also, which scientists, I mean actual doctorates, who have studied weather and the suns roll, the pole flip or past weather, gave the greens the thumbs up that co2 is a planet killer?

    Climate change is a scientifically proven reality, the temperature of the Earth has been increasing progressively, and a large part of the scientific community accepts that we have entered the Anthropocene.

  7. There are two types of Geothermal that most people cannot, or do not, differentiate between.
    There is conventional geothermal where an existing resource is exploited. Complex geology with a deep heat source, near volcanics with permability, cap rock and surface geothermal features. Iceland, USA, Philippines and New Zealand has these. These work and are very effective. They are also limited in scope.
    The other is the “hot dry rock type. You drill two wells close together into a hot rock with no permeability and then do fracking. Pump cold water down one well and it comes out of the other hot. Strip mining the heat. This hasn’t worked so far, but could. Maybe it is the geologist’s equivalent of fusion reactors. “Just ten years away”
    The resource in Chile is the former type. They already have an Ormat binary plant at one field. http://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/construction-starts-on-33-mw-expansion-of-cerro-pabellon-geothermal-plant-in-chile/ But, and it is a big but, it is probably only good for 100MW. Other fields are smaller.

    • “The other is the “hot dry rock type. You drill two wells close together into a hot rock with no permeability and then do fracking.”

      The majority of ‘vertical geothermal’ drilling sold to consumers is the latter type; irrespective of whether the rock is hot/dry or wet.
      When geothermal contractors are asked for estimates, they first want to install the common business approach of a pond or water containment system. Where the pond becomes their field for laying the ‘geothermal energy pipes’.

      When contractors find that a pond is not available, desirable or allowable they then agree to provide estimates for vertical geothermal drill holes. Several geothermal contractors just cease returning calls at this point.
      The idea of the vertical drill holes is not to tap magmatic heat, but to benefit from the earth’s very stable temperatures at depth. Using a heat pump to extract or dump heat into fifty to sixty degree °F earth is far more efficient than a heat pump trying to dump heat into high temperature atmosphere or extract heat from a very cold atmosphere.

      The estimates handed to me have been in the thirty thousand dollar range for a system to heat/cool a 2,000 sq. ft. house.
      One contractor admitted, that they’ve never installed a geothermal system at a house that was less than several million dollars in value. Which sort of explains why contractors put forward $30,000 estimates where a plain heat pump installation runs $6,000-$7,000.
      Another reason for geothermal high expense installations is because deep pipes are subject to high corrosion rates in our area. As is drawing and pumping high acidity waters through the heat exchange condenser.

      • We’re talking about large scale geothermal, not small scale domestic installations. Having logged, fracced and completed many conventional gas wells and monitored waterfloods over the past 40 years I have observed that rocks don’t conduct heat very well. The hot rock type are doomed to economic failure because the steady state (not the transient) overall heat transfer coefficient is very low. The hot rocks generators look good on trials when conditions are transient but soon drop in output.

    • Minerals are in the return water and precipitate out when the temperature drops in the heat exchanger.

      The economics of GT energy are atrocious if you have to replace the heat exchanger exert other month. You can get some of the money back by cutting up the pipes and selling the agates growing within, but the market will soon be saturated.

  8. I’m under the impression that there are numerous successful small geothermal plants throughout the world, such as in Rotorua, New Zealand and The Geysers in California . However, a drawback is that like windmills and dams, they can’t be placed anywhere that is conveniently close to the area that needs power unless serendipity intervenes. Potential geothermal sources are relatively scarce compared to suitable wind or hydroelectric locations. So, they will probably continue to be supplementary power sources.

    While it is true that they don’t contribute to that horrible atmospheric poison CO2 (albeit they often do have toxic sulfur emissions), the waste water is often toxic to aquatic life and the water is often saturated with minerals that make the piping and valving problematic.

    So, I’d be very surprised if anyone has come up with a solution to all the problems such that it will make geothermal other than a niche power source.

    • Rotorua hasn’t got any geothermal power stations on its field. It is too cold (only 150°C). The waste (actually separated ) water and about half the steam condensate at most fields is dealt with by reinjection back onto the field margins so no discharge to surface or drinking water aquifers.
      It isn’t niche. In NZ, the geothermal stations generate more energy than the gas and coal ones do. It is just very country dependent and won’t replace be a full worldwide replacement for thermal plants. But it is just one of the alternatives.

      • Chris
        Thank you for the correction about Rotorua. I was going from memory when I was there in 1979. As I recollect, NZ has little coal and no oil. Therefore, to keep the balance of payments (How many sheep are equal to one barrel of oil?) under control, hydroelectric and geothermal were the first choice. I understand that the abominable windmills have taken over the hills around Wellington since I was last there.

        • We actually have a lot of coal. Much of what is mined is exported for steel making and we import thermal coal. Many of the coal measures are relatively thin and small. What would be ideal for small enterprises but not suitable for industrial production. There is a lot of lignite where they don’t need power. We have a lot of hydro and small population so power production from renewables isn’t that hard. We have a number of gas fields that produce condensate – Much of that is exported and we import crude that better suits our needs which are about half diesel. We do have a lot of birdchoppers (about 700MWs) but many are sited within sight of the greenies so that is poetic justice. We still generate more power from thermal than from wind.
          As it rains a lot here, our hydros don’t have much storage (about one months supply) In they eyes of our current5 holier than thou government, fossil fuel for power production is a no-no. Unless it is to help them get out of a hole when the wind doesn’t blow and it doesn’t rain, which is usually at the same time.

        • Clyde Spencer
          November 30, 2019 at 5:43 pm

          Actually we have mega tons of great coal in NZ…some of the best coking coal in the world (CSI of 9+) in the South Island, lots of sub bituminous coal in the North Island close to our largest city (Auckland) but coal is now a 4 letter word to the green idiots. Still some good hydro sites but the Greens want to go rafting on those rivers. There’s not much oil but we have onshore and offshore gas. But our Green PM has banned any more offshore gas exploration. No uranium but we are supposed to be “nuclear free” (except when the greens need nuclear medicine, X-rays, CT scans, etc.).

          So we now have some bird choppers springing up in scenic places. Fortunately there is starting to be some push back from this visual pollution. No solar apart from domestic households. So our future options are limited thanks to the Greens…yet somehow we are going to be able to all have electric cars, trucks and trains soon.

          • Being in the roaring 40s we have some of the best wind resource in the world in terms of annual utilization, and relative well suited to operating with hydro. Somewhat predictably though many of the best locations are in National Parks ….

          • well Fang banned offshore oil n gas rigs I gather she wants to ban cows andprobably sheep too, so coals def not going to get a kind word;-)

            off that flimflam didnt choose to use the boiling waters from round Birdsville area?
            the water coming up is so hat the water heaters in homes are the COLD supply for residents.

  9. Standby to contribute your taxes so that governments everywhere can indulge their fantasies and the fantasies of their very loud pressure groups to invest (waste) yet again in Hot Rocks. Flannery will once again be available to figurehead the disaster.

    • Yes, that stood out. I had to double-check that it was still in the quotation and not sarcastic commentary. I guess they provided their own humor.

  10. When I was a kid back in the 1950s, Lewis Strauss, a cockeyed optimist at the Nuclear Energy Commission, predicted that electricity generated by nuclear energy would soon be “too cheap to meter.” Strauss was issuing a hope for nuclear fusion, which has not been commercially successful, but energy from nuclear fission has been tarred by that starry-eyed sales pitch ever since.

    Even though nuclear fission turned out to be cheap, safe, and low in CO2 emissions, greenie/enviros hate it anyway. Pretty near everywhere but France, and possibly China, countries that use nukes face a gathering storm of negative public opinion. For good measure, greenies hate beef, pork, chicken, GMOs, modern agriculture in general, vaccines, suburbia, religion (except for Allah and Gaia) factory-made goods, banks, capitalism, and almost everything else that has improved life since 1750. The only things they seem to like are elephantine bureaucracies and dishonest media that are heavy on promises and light on realism.

    Has anyone noticed that overpromising for solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, etc. is running the same course as nuclear — except that NONE OF THEM have turned out to cheap, safe or environmentally benign?

    When will the public get wise to the humbug?

    • They like their iThings and electric cars too. Also marijuana, quinoa, and don’t seem to have a problem with coffee. (I’ve never had a good answer to their preferred material for shoes though; plastic is “vegan” but made from plastic, while leather is “natural” but oppresses animals.)

  11. Ah, come on. Geothermal works just fine given a suitable site. The Geysers site North of San Francisco has been generating electricity at competetive prices for almost a century. see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_power. Current production there is about 1GW — roughly the same as a nuclear power plant.

    The biggest problem is that there just aren’t all that many suitable sites. There are some other problems including the fact that most places with very hot rocks are near volcanoes and there are some drawbacks to building infrastructure near volcanoes. For example Hawaii’s Puna power station has been down for over a year after a lava flow ate part of the facility.

    Depending on the geology, a bit of CO2 and probably some nasty chemical compounds will be present in the steam used to drive the turbines, but the amounts are typically pretty low.

    Sort of like tidal power generation. Geothermal can work if you have just the right situation, But there aren’t a lot of those.

    • Don
      Geysers has very limited production, less than an equivalently sized nuke (but more than wind or solar). They have a severe steam shortage so only produce during heavy load periods each day.
      But yes it is very site dependent and there aren’t that many sites, especially as many are under protection orders, many instigated by the same people who oppose nukes or thermal stations.

      • “Power plants at the Geysers are of the dry steam power plant type, where the steam directly powers the generator.[8] In general, the Geysers has 1517 MW[19] of active installed capacity with an average production factor of 63% (955 MW).[20]” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Geysers

        955 MW is actually larger than many of the early nuclear power plants. e.g Vermont Yankee was 640MW. The surviving reactor at Three Mile Island is rated at 819MW.

        I assume “they” arrange production at the Geysers to match peak demand. unlike wind and solar, geothermal power is dispatchable.

    • Around Chile, the subduction zone is 50 miles offshore under 3 or 4 miles of water. Continental drift is 2 or 3 inches per year, and that’s relative to Africa.

  12. GEODYNAMICS LIMITED GDY alone could have blown near AU$Bill.
    There have been many other “hot rock” explorers/players too and I can not recall a viable project.
    Then when failure for GDY got too obvious in 2016 I think – they rebranded as ReNu Energy Ltd RNE and I see their market cap is a stellar ~AU$2.8mill
    http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=2371

  13. As our Ms Nancy puts it: Climate Change is an Existential Threat

    Lucky for us, she will be present in Madrid, with some Democrat backup, to explain how we are all going to die if don’t heed her words….

  14. A small part of the city of Copenhagen is heated by underground hot water. In my flat it costs about 40 USD per month to get central heating, hot water and floor heating in the bathroom. This is much cheaper than in locations without hot water in the ground. There should be enough hot water to keep my flat warm for the next 300 years.

    The temperature of the hot saline water is only 73 degrees Celsius, so it cannot be used to generate electricity.

    • Actually, excusing the pun, the fusion of nuclear fusion and geothermal gives us an unlimited supply of stable clean energy with proven technology. Just frack with H-bombs!!

  15. Want to learn how to really throw money away. Check the history of the Cornwall Rosemanowes Quarry HDR Project started circa 1973, and which has been vacuuming money out of green idealist idiots pockets ever since in one form or another. Power produced zilch. A true Zombie project that just refuses to die.

  16. If their breakthrough is technology to identify geothermal targets they’re still a long way from a solution. It’s like getting excited with technology that identifies where it’s windy so one can place a wind farm. Wind farms are still a long way from being an energy solution as well.

  17. I now propose a heretofore unknown source of creating power. I call it … “mindpower”.

    It involves practicing science, math, and analysis in a fashion that yields rational, realistic actions, and viable solutions based in sound logic. This ancient, forgotten source of power (once called “intelligence”) has become more scarce and more ignored over the years, which is why I now proclaim to champion its revival for a new era of progress.

    Mindpower^TM — the hope of the future.

  18. “There is a big difference between stopping a change and curbing a disaster”
    Indeed there is , the climate change religion is disastrous to our way of life .
    Where are the real cost benefit analysis done or promoted .
    Everything spent on solar,wind,intermittent energy has been of huge cost ,not just to 1st world economies but especially to 3rd world who could have used that energy to progress .
    We need more Trumps in the world , but the media is holding them back .

  19. I happen to travel to Iceland quite a bit and they make use of geothermal in a very sensible way that we could take advantage of here in California in certain areas. For example, heat and hot water are practically free in Iceland because everyone heats with steam from hydrothermal sources. Towns in California such as Bishop, Benton and Mammoth Lakes could probably get all the free heat they can use from available underground hot water. Some of the hot springs in those areas are hot enough to instantly kill anyone unlucky enough to fall into one. I don’t know what the energy consumption is for heating and hot water in Mammoth Lakes and Bishop but I am willing to bet it is a considerable amount.

    For example, in Reykjavik there are great insulated pipelines that travel for miles to bring hot water in from the surrounding area into the city where it is distributed to homes. The raw water can go directly to radiators (just about every place I have seen in Iceland also has steam heated towel racks in the bathroom!) or can go to heat exchangers for hot water for domestic use (though some places use the raw water for bathing if one doesn’t mind a bit of a sulfur smell). One just needs to moderate the pH to prevent corrosion and such.

  20. See:

    https://www.tomswift.info/homepage/aearth.html

    Tom Swift and His Atomic Blaster:

    It’s a story from the early 1950’s that anticipates drilling down to basically a mantle
    plume (before such things were known) using something similar to a modern
    plasma drill.

    In the 1950s/60’s the author(s) heavily relied on our ability to suspend our disbelief…

    Much as today’s patent-applied-for grant chasers expect.

  21. Or towns could install small modular reactors and have a steam utility to provide heat to all the homes in the community in addition to electricity.

  22. There are two basic categories of geothermal: utility scale and home scale. I’m going to talk about home scale, because I investigated it when we had our house built two years ago. Conclusion first: If you have a body of water on your property and no regulatory issues, home-scale geothermal might be promising. Otherwise, watch out.

    The typical small-scale geothermal setup involves digging a length of trench 5 or 6 feet deep; placing PVC pipe inside; replacing the soil; pumping antifreeze through the pipes to capture the heat in winter and the coolness in summer, using a heat exchanger. It’s an appealing idea, given that the soil temperature at 5 or 6 feet is typically somewhere around 55F/13C. You’d think it would be a snap to make the exchange, right? Think again.

    The trenching and pipe placement is the easy part; in my research I uncovered no show-stoppers. The pumping uses electricity; the question is how much more heat you get by doing it this way relative to plain electric coils. There are some strange issues there, the strangest being that, as you withdraw heat from the soil in those trenches during the winter, you cool the soil. In fact, if you’re in a cold climate, it’s not uncommon to actually freeze the soil.

    As the soil has less heat to give, the ratio of energy used to pump the anti-freeze to heat delivered to the structure becomes less and less favorable. The same thing happens in summer in reverse. In places with hot summers, the soil warms up. Another issue concerns the soil replaced around the pipes in the trench. It tends to settle, and to develop air pockets, reducing the efficiency of any heat transfer. Who knew? I didn’t.

    You can also run a geothermal (a/k/a “ground source”) pump into a well. The problem there is the same pumping energy issue, plus the need to dig a second well to return the water to the aquifer. This is more daunting than you might think. Finally, residential ground-source heat pumps are about twice as expensive as conventional “air source” models, and wind up being considerably more finicky in operation, and harder to find people to fix them.

    All in all, the capital cost to install a residential ground-source heat pump is at least double that of an air-source model, and probably more like triple. The coup de grace is that, in the past 20 or so years, conventional air-source heat pumps have become much better. They operate at roughly 2.5x the efficiency of bare electric coils, and can readily operate at temperatures down to 0F, at least if you get a big enough one. We opted for a hybrid that uses the heat pump down to somewhere between 15 and 20F, then going to propane below that.

    Residential geothermal heating was one of several non-traditional HVAC approaches that I considered before we had the place built. I was open-minded all the way, but for various specific and practical reasons rejected solar panels, solar water heating, and a ground-source heat pump. I’ll leave the utility-scale discussion to others, but on the residential side, I regard ground-source heat pumps as an appealing idea that hasn’t worked out in practice.

    As for a body of water, if you had a year-’round stream or a deep enough pond, maybe (a big maybe) a ground-source heat pump would work. But especially insofar as a stream is concerned, I could easily imagine the environmental weenies getting pretty hinky about the fish.

    • Two points about so-called geothermal heat pumps (as you mentioned, they are really thermal storage in soil and do not extract heat from deep underground or from hot springs).

      One is the reliability concerns you mention. I went to an energy fair from the local power company where they distributed literature promoting this method of home heating, and a woman showed up who had complaints about such a system. She was a nurse in private practice making visits to serve medical needs of the home bound, she lived outside the city where she had enough land to install such a system, and her electric bills were sky high.

      She and the power company representative had some back-and-forth about would could have gone wrong with her geothermal setup, but I got the impression that 1) the power company was only promoting this as green public relations, so their representative was going through the motions handing out the literature and 2) their representative was palpably uncomfortable dealing with an unsatisfied customer because that one of these systems could be done wrong was off-script. My takeaway from the session is that there is non-trivial risk installing such a system, having it either done wrong or go wrong and then having no recourse nor prospects for fixing it.

      Two, installations of such systems have gotten very expensive. I am pulling numbers out of my head, but I installed a then high-efficiency A/C (13 SEER) and condensing gas furnace for about $4500 back in 1993. In that time framework, I has seen “numbers” for a ground-source heat pump installation in the $10,000 range. Much more recently, a friend was quoted $40,000 for such an installation for a smallish house. I am thinking that with all of the monetary stimulus supporting housing prices, the cost of anything associated with a house has greatly increase since the 2008 financial crisis. I am afraid to ask what replacing my 26 year old A/C and furnace would run, and I watch over the equipment carefully that I don’t have to incur such an expense.

      • I first encountered them as “geothermal heat pumps,” but I usually wind up calling them “ground source heat pumps.” And yes, they are very different from what the utilities do. It sounds like the woman you encountered had a system whose heat exchanger wasn’t working, probably for one of the reasons I mentioned in my first comment. Ground source heat pumps also have old coils that produce ridiculously expensive heat, and that’s probably what she was stuck with.

        As I investigated the option 2+ years ago, I ran across some material that said a ground source system had to be 3-1/2 or 4 times as efficient as plain coils to justify the capital investment. I have to say that the freezing of ground around the trenched pipes, and the air gap issue, were big surprises to me. There’s nothing like facing the imminent drain on your personal funds to make you a whole lot more discerning than you might otherwise be.

        Another one that I looked at was a home-scale wind turbine. I axed that idea for lack of established vendors, along with short warranties (3 years was typical of what I could find) and high-cost ongoing maintenance. From my perspective, the best “alternatives” for us have been on-demand propane-fueled hot water, that air-sourced heat pump, and a short range electric car that I bought at a deep discount strictly for curiosity’s sake. Everything else that I looked at was a non-starter.

        Our new neighbors have built a house on the 20 acres next to us, and are relying on a larger-scale heat pump than ours, with no propane backup furnace. I have mixed feelings about that, because if a heat pump fails (they don’t have a generator yet, and we get two or three power failures a year here), it takes forever to get back to a warm house on account of heat pumps not streaming very hot air.

        All of this is reminding me to do some more spade work with respect to the heat pump here vs. the propane backup. There’s a temperature breakeven point below which even a well-operating air-source pump becomes more expensive than propane, and now that the frigidity has arrived I need to find out what that temperature is.

  23. Well, that sort of geothermal (basically a heat pump using ground temperature) is a little different than steam under pressure at a few hundred degrees.

    By the way, China is installing a nuclear heating project in Haiyang (Shandong province).

    The system will initially heat 700,000 square metres of housing this winter, including SDNPC’s dormitory and some residents of Haiyang.

    This use of nuclear energy heating is expected to avoid the use of 23,200 tonnes of coal annually, cutting emissions of soot by 222 tonnes, of sulfur dioxide by 382 tonnes, of nitrogen oxide by 362 tonnes and of carbon dioxide by 60,000 tonnes.

    The Haiyang Nuclear Energy Heating Project is expected to provide heating to the entire Haiyang city by 2021.

    https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Chinese-nuclear-heating-project-starts-up

  24. Key here is not to have subsidies or government regulations. Let human ingenuity flourish. Do it with private money and keep sure that you have a business case.

    Here one example of a suburb level geothermal: https://www.st1.eu/st1-to-launch-the-final-phase-of-drilling-the-worlds-deepest-geothermal-heat-wells-in-otaniemi.

    Instead of drilling you can you can use a lake, a pond, a river or a sea as the heat reservoir. See Stockholm case https://www.gshp.org.uk/DeMontfort/LargeWaterSourceHeatPumpsSwedish.pdf

    Start with small experiments, not with world government totalitarian rule.

  25. Oh Um I am nearly 80 years old, And as a baby I can remember elictricery being produced from a vent nesa our hose in New Zealand (present geothermal electricity produced in NZ is 900mw ) about 17% of the supply ! Wind, Sun ? follow the money !!!!

  26. I should add WA is an islanded power grid from the other States so without interconnectors it’s a microcosm of what will happen eventually to the eastern seaboard too. Just grappling with the unreliables growth problem sooner.

  27. No talk of pollution? I was a medical consultant briefly for a mid sized conventional geothermal plant supplying Jakarta. Demonstration size. Worked fine. However. The main pollution risk was hydrogen sulphide. The risk was a dramatic increase in loss, killing the staff.
    Naturally, the facility was built in an isolated area, a long way from any villages. To my knowledge, no further plants were built, the risks were too high.

  28. “Given this pessimistic scenario, Chile has good news to contribute. Our country has been recognized internationally as an example in the promotion and development of renewable energies, the development of solar energy positions it as the third national energy source. We must applaud this fact and continue on that path, deeper, deeper, underground.”

    Wait…

    Isn’t Chile the place St Greta had to change her destination from because the People there were on the streets trying to stop the Govt from their rampant renewable campaigns that were making life unlivable?

  29. ABC NEWS –

    Geothermal power project closes in SA as technology deemed not financially viable

    BY TOM FEDOROWYTSCH
    TUE 30 AUG 2016, 4:45 PM AEST

    A potential energy source in Australia is set to remain untapped, with a geothermal power project in the far north of South Australia now closed.

    Energy company Geodynamics closed and remediated the sites of several test wells and generation plants in the Cooper Basin after deciding they were not financially viable.

    Before the closure, the company had managed to extract super-heated water from five kilometres below the earth’s surface and use it to generate small amounts of electricity.

    “The technology worked but unfortunately the cost of implementing the technology and also the cost of delivering the electricity that was produced to a market was just greater than the revenue stream that we could create,” Geodynamics chief executive Chris Murray said.

    Professor Martin Hand ran the South Australian Centre for Geothermal Energy Research at the University of Adelaide.

    “I think it was talked up too much — it’s a very nice concept on the front page of a newspaper, looks very easy to do, and I think it was over-spruiked,” he said.

    Professor Hand said large areas of the Earth’s crust across Australia were very hot and could be ideal for use as a non-conventional energy source.

    “Rocks about five kilometres below the surface are at temperatures of around 240 to 250 degrees and, in principle, if water could be circulated through those rocks it could be returned to the surface to produce geothermal power in a power plant,” he said.

    He pointed out Australian geothermal energy differed greatly from the energy created by abundant and accessible steam vents in countries such as New Zealand and Iceland.

    “There are 46 countries around the world that generate significant geothermal energy, but all of those come from conventional systems — where you see the geysers and all the volcanic manifestation, where there is natural permeability in the ground,” Professor Hand said.
    ____________________________________

    The difference is:

    – Energy company Geodynamics [ ] had managed to extract super-heated water from five kilometres below the earth’s surface which stems from Earth’s MANTLE.

    While

    – “46 countries around the world that generate significant geothermal energy, but all of those come from conventional systems — where you see the geysers and all the volcanic manifestation, where there is natural permeability in the ground,”:

    where the reaped heat stems from Earth’s red hot interior along the ring of fire – reliable and super-powered.

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