Wairakei geothermal power station pipeline steam

US Politicians Pin Green Hopes on a Geothermal Energy Breakthrough

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Geothermal energy in most places is an expensive dead end. But like the masked baddie in a low budget horror flick, it won’t stay in its grave, it keeps returning to the political agenda.

The renewable energy source Democrats hope will break out

Climate advocates and lawmakers believe the $320 billion in tax incentives promoting renewables like geothermal will remain mostly unchanged.

By JONATHAN CUSTODIO

01/17/2022 07:00 AM EST

Backers in Congress included geothermal energy in the bipartisan infrastructure package passed last fall that devoted $84 million for demonstration projects. And supporters say the hundreds of billions of dollars in tax incentives and research funding in the Build Back Better Act could help propel it into the mainstream.

“If our focus is on creating good-paying jobs, growing the economy, and addressing the climate crisis, this is a perfect example of why we need this type of tax credit for geothermal, which is a benefit to clean energy, no question about it, but across the country,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto told POLITICO.

“We support geothermal energy as one of the good alternatives out there as far as fulfilling a green or renewable portfolio,” said LaMalfa, whose northern California district is a hot spot for geothermal energy. “Being contained in a bill like this that is looking doomed is too bad. I would rather see it in a separate bill, in a separate energy bill, that would be more positive instead of one of this gigantic size that is running into big problems over the Senate side.”

According to the Energy Information Administration, the initial cost for a geothermal energy field and power plant is about $2,500 per kilowatt, far more expensive than solar and wind energy, which have benefited from supportive federal and state policies and financial incentives that have driven down production costs.In 2019, the average cost for onshore wind generators was $1,391 per kilowatt, while solar energy averaged at $1,796 per kilowatt.

“If geothermal were to become affordable, then there’s tremendous potential for it to be adopted for electricity generation,” said Daniel Shawhan, a fellow with Resources for the Future, a nonprofit group that conducts research on clean energy. “It really could provide a large portion of the world’s energy. And in particular, it could be the missing piece in affordably [and] inexpensively achieving [a] net-zero emissions economy,” he added.

Possibly the strongest argument for greater adoption of geothermal systems is that power plants can produce energy around the clock since the heat in the earth’s core is available 24/7, unlike its wind and solar companions.

Read more: https://www.politico.com/news/2022/01/17/democrats-biden-clean-energy-527175

The allure is obvious – a form of renewable energy which produces 24×7, without needing a big reservoir. There are even places where geothermal works – places with ideal conditions, with heat sources close to the surface for easy access, low content of water soluble minerals to prevent blocking of cracks between the rocks, and ideal rock chemistry and physical properties. But attempts to expand the range of suitable geothermal power sources outside this small set of ideal niches have to date encountered insurmountable problems.

4.8 25 votes
Article Rating
114 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom.1
January 19, 2022 2:13 pm

I would be willing to pay more for my energy if only the alarmist would shut up. Of course, we know that will never happen.

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  Tom.1
January 19, 2022 3:11 pm

Hot air spewed by alarmists regarding our impending doom is sufficient to power enough windmills to power a planet with 15 billion people living in first world conditions! ***

*** Mainstream media “journalism” rules were utilized for this statement. I DO NOT have to show my math. My mere assertion should provide sufficient scientific proof.

DonM
Reply to  Tom.1
January 19, 2022 3:18 pm

Comments like this this … with conditions that those with opposing views ‘shut up’ … are demeaning to both sides of the argument.

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  DonM
January 19, 2022 3:27 pm

His condition was that he was “willing to pay more for my energy”. That is not much of an enforcement mechanism to force opposing views to shut up.

My comment was even more ridiculously snarky.

I think you need to take your “sarcasm detector” into the shop for re-calibration.

DonM
Reply to  Pillage Idiot
January 19, 2022 4:08 pm

mebbe I need to add a sarc tag, & reference the previous Tom.1 posts where he complains about the tone of others.

(actually I tried to, through the edit, but I waited too long.)

Last edited 4 months ago by DonM
Pillage Idiot
Reply to  DonM
January 19, 2022 6:15 pm

You are correct that it would be nice to just have a discussion of “global warming” that consisted of fact-based scientific reasoning with no emotionally laden content.

However, the alarmists have a soapbox the size of Antarctica and the skeptics have a platform the size of an ice cube.

I think a little “push back” is probably a good pressure release.

Personally, I enjoy my “Idiot” persona for that role.

AndyHce
Reply to  Pillage Idiot
January 19, 2022 7:48 pm

The ‘skeptics’, as evidenced weekly, have several dozen complete and contradictory hypotheticals to fit onto that ice cube.

MarkW
Reply to  AndyHce
January 20, 2022 10:32 am

That’s because unlike you alarmists, skeptics don’t have a global authority that enforces conformity or expulsion on individuals.

Individuals are free to believe and support anything they want.

I find it amusing how alarmists actually view differing opinions as somehow disqualifying.

DonM
Reply to  Pillage Idiot
January 20, 2022 12:08 pm

My comment was specific to Tom.1. It was intended to show him how silly & hypocritical he was, when he made silly comments (similar to mine).

I don’t mind the side comments & ‘push back”.

I think it is irritating when others chastise the “push back”. And per the number of minuses on my original, above post, I assume that others think it is irritating as well.

(you have a ways to go to live up to your ‘idiot’ persona & label)

Reply to  DonM
January 19, 2022 4:45 pm

What is the argument for so-called clean energy?

Tom.1
Reply to  Rafe Champion
January 20, 2022 4:15 am

The arguments are that it would be cheaper and cleaner; now all they have to do is deliver.

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  Tom.1
January 20, 2022 4:42 am

It’s tough to deliver a theoretically impossible solution. These people are like the perpetual motion inventors.

MarkW
Reply to  Tom.1
January 20, 2022 10:34 am

They claim that renewables are cheaper, by only counting the operating costs costs of wind and solar against the total cost of fossil fuel power. They even assign the cost of dealing with the unpredictable nature of renewable power to the fossil fuel plants.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Rafe Champion
January 20, 2022 9:12 am

What is the argument for so-called clean energy?

Before asking, define “clean”.

DonM
Reply to  Rafe Champion
January 20, 2022 11:53 am

“What is the argument for so-called clean energy?” I don’t know.

What is the logical argument for so-called clean energy?

There is not one that I know of.

MarkW
Reply to  DonM
January 19, 2022 6:38 pm

Leftists have been demanding that everyone who disagrees with them, not just shut up, but be banned from society in general. Unlike Tom.1, the leftists aren’t being sarcastic, they really mean it.

Joao Martins
Reply to  DonM
January 20, 2022 9:10 am

Comments like this this … with conditions that those with opposing views ‘shut up’ …

I presume that you like better that opposing views shup up and pay what you tell them to pay…

DonM
Reply to  Joao Martins
January 20, 2022 11:47 am

My comment was specific to Tom.1. It was intended to show him how silly & hypocritical he was, when he made silly comments (similar to mine).

Based on all of your previous posts, I would actually prefer that the ‘opposing views’ shut up and do exactly what YOU recommend, or tell them to do. In other words, I agree with most of what you say.

Last edited 4 months ago by DonM
Joao Martins
Reply to  DonM
January 20, 2022 1:30 pm

I apologize, I did not understand your previous comment.

DonM
Reply to  Joao Martins
January 21, 2022 9:21 am

No need to apologize, my comment did make me look like a …
Tom.1

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Tom.1
January 19, 2022 7:08 pm

Why pay more than necessary for something so crucial to life?
It’s like being Catholic again, pay more to assuage guilt?
No thanks

Redge
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 19, 2022 11:12 pm

It’s like being Catholic again, pay more to assuage guilt?

I had to reread that, I thought it said “sausage guilt”

PCman999
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 22, 2022 7:58 am

Poor you, forced to stick in irrelevant ignorant, bigoted comments to assuage your guilt and lingering doubts.

Confession is free, take advantage of it, much cheaper and effective than psychoanalysis!😁😇🙏

Alex
Reply to  Tom.1
January 19, 2022 8:55 pm

Would you pay a kidnapper his ransom?
I see, you even pay more, so that he can go on!

Joseph Zorzin
January 19, 2022 2:14 pm

geothermal is even being promoted in Massachusetts- here’s a company looking for business- I don’t know if it’s even feasible- probably if you dig deep enough

https://dandelionenergy.com/massachusetts-geothermal

Clay Sanborn
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 19, 2022 3:09 pm

While Dandelionenergy takes advantage of stable, local, ground temperature for home heat-pump energy efficiency, it is a much different technology, I think, from the deep well Geothermal heat extraction mentioned in this article. Home heat pumps utilize the 50s degree ground temps for its heat in the winter, and for its relative lack of heat for summer A/C. When it comes to heat pumps, it’s best to remember there is no such think as what we call cold – there is only varying amounts of heat. For example, anything above absolute zero has heat. A glass of drinking ice water has much, much more heat in it than 1/10 degree above absolute zero; neither are cold. Because? Ans: there no such thing as “cold”.

mcswell
Reply to  Clay Sanborn
January 19, 2022 5:42 pm

I had a window in my dorm room in college that I swear radiated cold.

(And no, I know better…)

THX1138
Reply to  mcswell
January 19, 2022 7:03 pm

My ex-wife radiated cold. prove me wrong.

Dave
Reply to  THX1138
January 19, 2022 8:40 pm

In retrospect you seem to say that she’s not as hot as she used to be, and you became one hot dude.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  mcswell
January 19, 2022 8:41 pm

Mcswell, you do get a ‘draft’ from a sizable sealed glass window, but it’s not air from outside. Inside air touching the cold glass, cools gets denser and slides down, more warm ir replaces it forming a circulating cell into the room.

Kevin McNeill
Reply to  Gary Pearse
January 20, 2022 10:54 am

Unless there’s a gap under the sill.

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 19, 2022 3:20 pm

Massachusetts has below average heat flow and relatively cold soil (due to the average annual air temperature). It would therefore not be a good area for geothermal energy that was presumably for home space heating.

However, if government subsidies greatly outweigh engineering efficiency, then ANY project becomes “viable” (for certain definitions of viable).

mcswell
Reply to  Pillage Idiot
January 19, 2022 5:50 pm

IANAE (I Am Not An Engineer), but Massachusetts might be ok for geothermal heat pumps. As I understand it, geothermal heat pumps require an average ground temp that is around 50 degrees, although any temp significantly above the air temp in the winter (and colder than the air in the summer) should be useful. And they require some moisture in the ground (so they might not work well in deserts). Boston (and probably the rest of the state) meets these requirements, plus the winter air temps are quite cold. So yes, if I were going to live long term in Boston, I’d be looking into a geothermal heat pump for my home.

MarkW
Reply to  mcswell
January 19, 2022 6:43 pm

The colder the average air temperature, the deeper you have to go to find 50 degree soil.

menace
Reply to  MarkW
January 20, 2022 8:55 am

You probably need to go a fixed distance below the frost line.

In central midwest that is about 2 feet, in New England about 5 feet so maybe 3 feet deeper will do?

Various sources say 4-6 feet deep to 6-8 feet deep so it seems that about 3 feet below the frost line would be adequate, as I had guessed.

Also it is stated that seasonal variations in soil temp goes away once you hit 10m but nobody puts them that deep afaik.

Here is a graph of temp vs depth I found, when avg air temp is 5C (41F) at 2m (6.5 ft) soil temp is 15C (59F). Note that soil temp lags air temp by one month, so when air temp bottoms out at 0C (32F) the soil temp at 2m is about 61F (15.5C).

A threshold of 50F is 10C so the soil temp at 2 m in such a cold climate that has an minimum avg temp of -5C (23F) I suspect might still be above 50F but digging a couple or three feet deeper still would make the loop more efficient.

Last edited 4 months ago by menace
Slowroll
Reply to  menace
January 20, 2022 9:59 am

Plain old ground source heat pumps are another scam, and not be confused with geothermal. Water at 50 – 55 F isn’t much good to heat a house. The water has to be warmed considerably more by a compressor/ evaporator heat pump. In a cold climate that takes a lot of kilowatt-hours. Not efficient at all. My neighbor got suckered into one and it costs him a fortune in electric bills, not to mention the small fortune he spent for all the trenching for the water collection system. I asked him why the hell did he pay for all that when the water from his (and every other) well comes out at about 55 F.

TonyL
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 19, 2022 3:24 pm

Oh, Bah-Humbug.
That is just ground source heat pumps.
You had me hoping they were finally going to exploit the volcanic magma chamber at the base of Mt. Greylock.

Ted
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 19, 2022 3:38 pm

This is the flavor or geothermal that we have in our house, built in 2005. I live in Iowa, fairly close to Des Moines, IA. On top of that, our house is 100% electric. Our heating/cooling bills average around $90 per month (me, my wife & two teenage boys). We went with geothermal in 2005 because the fella that we bought the property from, co-owned a geothermal company (it has since gone belly-up) and as part of the purchase agreement, we would get it “at cost”. We ended up paying about $10,500 for it, which was about $2,000 lower than the quote but they went belly-up before they collected the full payment and there was nowhere left for us to send a check.

So what have we learned from the past 15 – 16 years? We have learned that even tho our energy bills are pretty consistent year round, we would never again install geothermal in our home, nor would we move into a home in a 4-season climate like Iowa’s without back-up heat such as propane or nat. gas. Also, nat. gas has gone up about 106% from January 2021 to the present, according to the local news today. Our electricity rates haven’t jumped much at all… yet.

We’ve been told for several years in a row now, that our fluid pump is on the brink of failure, and if we replace that, it will be around $1,100 – $1,800 for the new pump alone (it fluctuates quite a bit as the actual pump itself is used on a good number of tractors, therefore Spring and Fall prices are higher). The tank and pump together are, obviously, more expensive. To retrofit to a regular heating unit in the basement and central air outside, will be quite expensive too as some of the initial duct work needs to be changed. And even so, we’re still all electric… so, no heat when the electricity isn’t flowing.

Rich Lambert
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 19, 2022 4:03 pm

Geothermal and ground source heat pumps are being used interchangeably and confusing people. Normally geothermal energy refers to wells drilled into an area of hot rocks, e.g. The Geysers in CA, whereas ground source heat pumps use the ground or water near the surface as a source of heat and as a heat sink to provide cooling for air conditioning. Just like air source heat pumps, but underground. Ground source heat pumps use loops in trenches below the frost line or in wells of 100 foot or so depth. Dandelion Energy is selling ground source heat pump systems not geothermal. Iceland is a big user of geothermal energy since it is on top of volcanos.

John H
Reply to  Rich Lambert
January 20, 2022 4:58 am

I look it as Geothermal uses the heat coming up from the core, ground source is using the heat of the sun that heats the ground from above.

AndyHce
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 19, 2022 7:50 pm

And release all those demons?

Reply to  AndyHce
January 22, 2022 7:05 pm

Thank you! I needed that belly laugh!

Graham
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 20, 2022 12:23 am

My brother was a geothermal scientist and he worked all over the world .He was contracted to try and find enough geothermal.potential near Yellowstone in the US by a private company .He traveled over every year to try and locate an sufficient steam without success.r
He owns a computer program that helps to locate the heat and steam as they drill bore holes. There was not enough to run a economic power station so the program was eventually abandoned.
My brother worked for GENZL for many years and is now retired.
Our communist Prime Minister Jacinda has announced that some of our successful geothermal power stations are to be shut down ,the reason being that they are emitting to much CO2.
YOU CAN’T FIX STUPID.

PCman999
Reply to  Graham
January 22, 2022 8:11 am

It is really starting to look like the whole renewable energy cult is really a mask covering a scam to push wind and solar installations, ignoring any other ‘green’ solutions because the leaders of the scam aren’t going to profit from it. This goes for nuclear and for retrofitting old coal plants with CCGTS or super critical coal. They really don’t care about co2 or reliable energy, they just want to mine the subsidies.

TonyG
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 20, 2022 9:57 am

I just learned about Staufen, Germany – a town that’s being slowly destroyed due to side effects from geothermal drilling. Looks like Boblingen and Rudersberg, too.

How much of that might they face in Massachusetts? Can you imagine the same thing in Boston?

PCman999
Reply to  TonyG
January 22, 2022 8:12 am

It’s amazing the free pass that geothermal gets but fracking is treated like witchcraft.

Tom Halla
January 19, 2022 2:17 pm

It is remarkable what greens will do to avoid nuclear power.

H.R.
January 19, 2022 2:20 pm

If the Deccan Traps or Yellowstone go hot, we can forget about all this solar and wind nonsense, right?

Joe Wagner
Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 19, 2022 2:56 pm

Nah! It’ll be fine!

Scissor
Reply to  Joe Wagner
January 19, 2022 3:07 pm

It’s only Gain of Function.

MarkW
Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 19, 2022 3:03 pm

Don’t worry, we’ve modelled it.

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  MarkW
January 19, 2022 3:23 pm

And even run an experiment!

The Tonga explosion and ensuing 50-foot tsunami was just from the “bench testing” model.

I am sure we will have much better results when we scale up to full-scale production!

MarkW
Reply to  Pillage Idiot
January 20, 2022 10:40 am

The tsunami that hit Tonga was only about 5 foot. It was down to about 3 feet when it got to Hawaii and 2 feet by the time it reached Seattle.

Last edited 4 months ago by MarkW
ResourceGuy
Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 19, 2022 4:30 pm

It will work fine with the right former Senate staffer connections and DOE loans and grants.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 19, 2022 4:48 pm

What could go wrong?

TonyL
Reply to  H.R.
January 19, 2022 3:09 pm

I have been thinking!
It is true that geothermal is usually not feasible, or even possible in most locations. However, I have been to Iceland, and it works there. Indeed, it seems to work great, there.
So you need an ideal location.

I got a Great Idea!
Let’s build geothermal power plants in Yellowstone National Park. Lots of them.
Let’s pave the whole place over with electric power plants.
It’s Clean, It’s Green, It’s Sustainable.
The environmentalists will Love us.

What could go wrong!
{What, messing with a super volcano? You worry too much.}

Scissor
Reply to  TonyL
January 19, 2022 5:55 pm

Old Faithful is surely more reliable than solar panels and certainly wind turbines.

PCman999
Reply to  TonyL
January 22, 2022 8:21 am

Don’t give them any ideas, sarcasm goes right over the heads of Big Green and the alarmists – and renewable energy projects never get environmental assessments scrutinized like fracking or conventional power plants. Forests are already being mowed down to put up turbines and solar panels and all the associated access roads and power lines, not to mention all the full on rain forests clear cut to put in a biodiesel palm oil plantation.
Big Green doesn’t really care about the environment.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  H.R.
January 19, 2022 4:37 pm

If the Deccan Traps or Yellowstone go hot, we can forget about all this solar and wind nonsense, right?

Yup! You’ll definitely have more important things to worry about…

H.R.
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
January 19, 2022 5:04 pm

Yeah. First time around they left quite a mess to clean up. You didn’t hear anyone talking about wind and solar and net zero then, did you?

January 19, 2022 2:25 pm

Politicians love to ferret their way up to dead-ends rather than pursue rational goals, as being shorter, they believe that the dead-end will bring them to the Pot of Gold faster.

Nick Schroeder
January 19, 2022 2:42 pm

New Zealand & Geysers CA geothermal power sites are environmental messes!!
Lots of arsenic and other goodies.
Subsidence.
As bad as coal just different and MWs / mess ratio very low.

HAS
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
January 19, 2022 3:19 pm

In the absence of a specific reference I’d doubt this re NZ. Pretty strict conditions on discharges, with increasing use of reinjection to mitigate. Supplies about 20% of our electricity, and ongoing exploration of supercritical resources and access to more difficult to get at resources ongoing. Slightly cheaper than NG generation.

Curious George(@moudryj)
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
January 19, 2022 3:30 pm

No one is complaining much about The Geysers, CA. However $84 million is only a drop in a bucket. Stiff initial investment needed.

Doonman
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
January 19, 2022 6:22 pm

How’s that Pahoa Geophysical Power plant working in Hawaii these days?

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Doonman
January 20, 2022 3:38 pm

Like wind turbines when there’s too much wind, it appears geothermal power stations shut down when there’s too much heat :-).

The 38 MW power station became operational in 1993 and was shut down in May 2018 shortly after the Mauna Loa eruption:

The eruption had caused lava to flow over a PGV power substation, a warehouse and at least three geothermal wells that had been preventatively quenched and capped when lava fountains erupted nearby, eventually also cutting off road access.

The loss of the station’s output was made up with standby diesel generators. Operation resumed in November 2020. Three of the capped wells were covered by lava and have not been brought back into operation; I don’t know how much this reduces the original 38 MW nameplate capacity. Plans are to drill new wells.

ResourceGuy
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 21, 2022 8:14 am

Not to worry, Hawaii just raised tax rates on tourists so they can buy more diesel.

Graham
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
January 20, 2022 12:33 am

You don’t know what you are talking about Nick.
New Zealands geothermal stations may have some chemicals in the steam but they are not are polluting and we have very strict conditions on discharges.

MarkW
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
January 20, 2022 10:42 am

Modern coal plants are very clean.

Rud Istvan
January 19, 2022 2:56 pm

‘$320 billion in incentives for renewables’. What a waste. Government green stupidity over a non-problem with ECS at about 1.7C.
Geothermal mineral scales so difficult to maintain/short partial equipment life. Solar and wind are intermittent and lack grid inertia. So require backup plus in any significant penetration are also grid destabilizing (voltage sag==> brownout/blackout).

MarkW
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 19, 2022 3:06 pm

$320 billion works out to almost $1000 for every man, woman and child in the US.
There’s a lot of things I could have spent that money on.

TonyL
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 19, 2022 3:18 pm

Geothermal mineral scales so difficult to maintain/short partial equipment life.

Silica is slightly soluble at high temperature and pressure. Upon cooling it precipitates out as a fine clay-like solid. The Icelanders collect the silica and sell it to the touristas as “beauty mud” for facial treatments.
You have to hand it to them, the Icelanders do not miss a trick.

{Apparently, they use heat exchangers to keep the silica away from the turbines.}

Rocketscientist
Reply to  TonyL
January 19, 2022 3:56 pm

How clean is it? Why not use the silica to make glass?

TonyL
Reply to  Rocketscientist
January 19, 2022 4:07 pm

As I recall, it is fairly grey, while pure silica is brilliant white. So there is enough of something else to discolor it, at the least. As far as volcano geochemistry goes, there could be almost any element in it. Also, I have no idea how much is actually produced.

Scissor
Reply to  TonyL
January 19, 2022 5:58 pm

How about to make proppants for fracking then?

TonyL
Reply to  Scissor
January 20, 2022 2:40 am

As I said, I have no idea how much is produced. Selling into a boutique market and industrial quantities are different things. also, the precipitate is very fine. My guess is that the stuff would clog up the rock cracks as opposed to keeping the fissures open.

menace
Reply to  TonyL
January 20, 2022 9:13 am

Yeah it might make for good drilling mud though, but we have far less-exotic sources to get that from.

Last edited 4 months ago by menace
MarkW
Reply to  menace
January 20, 2022 10:43 am

I’m pretty sure the Icelanders get a lot more for the mud selling it as a beauty product, then they could selling it as drilling mud.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
January 19, 2022 3:54 pm

But the Earth’s core is cooling more rapidly than we thought. Won’t we hit peak geothermal?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
January 19, 2022 4:39 pm

It’s ok. The Magic Molecule will cause enough Global Heating to make up the difference.

Graham
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
January 20, 2022 12:42 am

The earths core would have cooled down millions of years ago if it did not contain Uranium .
This is a little known fact and is now accepted as settled science .
The sun is a massive nuclear reactor and the earths core is a smaller nuclear reactor but the green governments are running scared of building more nuclear stations and are closing down perfectly good stations .
You can’t fix stupid.

ResourceGuy
January 19, 2022 4:27 pm

How many politicos are in on the deals?

(There are multiple links here because of the paywall problem. Look up Blue Mtn geothermal project failure that is similar to Solyndra.)
Ormat’s retreat: Geothermal no slam dunk | Serving Northern Nevada (nnbw.com)

Lights go dim on another energy project – Washington Times

Simulus Funded Nevada Geothermal Close To Going Bust | John Hawkins’ Right Wing News

Kai Anderson, a lobbyist for Nevada Geothermal’s partner corporation, Ormat Technology, is a former Senate aide to Harry Reid. Ormat’s CEO Paul Thomsen is another former Reid aide.

Willem Post
January 19, 2022 4:31 pm

The US average for wind may be $1400/kW, but in New England, on 2000-ft-high PRISTINE ridge lines, it is $2400/kW, plus, even at that elevation, the wind quality is just average.

A more useful approach is to have entire university campuses, and urban areas heated with geothermal heat pumps.

This mode has been practiced in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, etc., for decades.

NEW buildings, highly insulated and sealed, go up with heat pumps, as standard practice.

My cousin has been living in such a 12-story building for at least 30 years.

Scissor
Reply to  Willem Post
January 19, 2022 6:06 pm

The power plant at CU Boulder was switched from coal to natural gas several years ago, I’m not actually sure when. But in any case, it’s a cogen plant for heat and electricity, cheaper all around.

In fact, it’s so inexpensive that most of the old buildings on campus still have single pane windows, not thermally efficient at all.

Willem Post
Reply to  Scissor
January 20, 2022 5:19 am

If the university had spent significant money making all buildings much more efficient, geothermal heat pumps would have economically heated, and cooled, and provide domestic hot water, for many decades, as such systems do in Northern European countries, and in Russia and Japan, and even some areas in the US.

Curious George(@moudryj)
Reply to  Willem Post
January 20, 2022 7:32 am

Link, please.

PCman999
Reply to  Willem Post
January 22, 2022 8:35 am

That’s the problem: significant money. It like you are paying upfront for geo instead of monthly for natural gas – and then the price of electricity goes up or the heat wears out before payback.
To me it still looks like a thermal dynamics problem, how is it more efficient to burn nat gas to make electricity (the current really cheapest way) to run expensive compressors and evaporators, and paying for the digging, etc., than just to burn the gas directly to heat the home. I can see there’s going to be special cases, but in general?

Chris
January 19, 2022 6:18 pm

What is there not to love about geothermal – if it (always) worked. I live in South Australia and millions were poured into a project that ultimately failed. The renewables energy authority notes “This geothermal project was completed on 18 September 2015.” What that really means is that it failed and they gave up on that date. It’s funny except that tax payers money was poured into it. It is now sufficiently long ago that there is no reason why someone else should not be able to get more grant money and keep that wheel spinning.

Dave
Reply to  Chris
January 20, 2022 3:13 am

I was foolish enough to believe in the hype back then. As were many others of course. Lost my shirt.

menace
Reply to  Chris
January 20, 2022 9:26 am

The Geysers geothermal field north of San Fransisco generates a total of about 900MW.

Interesting item:
By 1999 the steam to power extraction had begun to deplete the Geysers steam field and production began to drop. However, since October 16, 1997, the Geysers steam field has been recharged by injection of treated sewage effluent, producing approximately 77 megawatts [more??] of capacity in 2004.

It induces a lot of mag 2 earthquakes, nothing major like was the case for the deep wastewater injection wells that had induced more significant earthquakes in Oklahoma.

But drilling deep geothermal wells would probably induce larger earthquakes and also may cause land subsidence. I saw a story on Engineering Disasters last night about a French village where a resident drilled a geothermal well and it caused a lot of subsidence that caused many of the villager home foundations to crack and collapse.

Last edited 4 months ago by menace
MarkW
Reply to  menace
January 20, 2022 10:50 am

It wasn’t the geothermal that caused the subsidence. I don’t remember the exact geology, but there was some kind of capping layer that was keeping ground water in place. Once the cap was pierced the ground water leaked out and that caused the subsidence. The same problem would have happened if they had drilled a well for water, instead of one for geothermal.

Not familiar with the geothermal near San Francisco, but the earthquakes that were allegedly caused by ground water injection were hundreds of miles away from the sites of wells. Regardless, Oklahoma has a long and rich history of earthquakes.

PCman999
Reply to  menace
January 22, 2022 8:39 am

It’s amazing how geothermal gets a free pass and subsidies, plus the green badge of honour, but fracking (basically the same thing but more useful and safer) is treated like a pariah, or unvaccinated tennis player in Australia.

AndyHce
January 19, 2022 7:44 pm

If there was a way to make it work widely, there would be rage and gnashing of teeth over bleeding Mother Earth to death, or wrecking the world by draining the energy of tectonic plate movement, or some other imaginative catastrophe.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  AndyHce
January 19, 2022 7:47 pm

Beat me to it by 1 minute

If it worked and provided free unlimited energy the greens would oppose it.

As they support it that make it far more likely to be “mostly useless crap” like wind and solar

They will not support anything that works

Pat from kerbob
January 19, 2022 7:45 pm

Geothermal removes heat from the earth’s core, core solidifies, everything dies when earths magnetosphere collapses. Or we all become the Thing, or stretch, or invisible, or catch fire

Saw a movie once so it must be true

Graham
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 20, 2022 12:51 am

The heat often comes out by it self .
This is called volcanic eruptions .
Have you seen on the news about the eruption in the Tonga Islands.
We heard the explosions in New Zealand over 3 thousand miles away carried here by a sonic boom .
Plenty of heat and energy down below as the center of the earth is a nuclear reactor

Forrest
January 19, 2022 7:51 pm

At least where it works it is actually practical unlike wind which is unreliable and solar which is just an offset during the times the sun is shining.

MarkW
Reply to  Forrest
January 20, 2022 10:52 am

To me “practical” means that the value of the energy produced will exceed the design/construction/operation/mothballing costs of the plant itself.

lmo
January 19, 2022 8:04 pm

Perfect! The water is always hot somewhere.

Gary Pearse
January 19, 2022 8:29 pm

Where you have super hot springs in recent to relatively recent (~20,000yrs to present) volcanic areas, eg Iceland, New Zealand, it works great. Banking on the normal geothermal gradient, not so much. Heat pump stuff they are pushing in UK is hopelessly expensive and the water will be disappointingly tepid.

stinkerp
January 19, 2022 8:33 pm

Tonga had a geothermal source close to the surface until it exploded and disappeared into the ocean last week.

Dennis
January 19, 2022 8:41 pm

Founder of the Climate Council in Australia, non-government organisation of leftist scare campaigners for climate hoax, AKA Tom Foolery, and colleagues started a geothermal energy company here and suckered in investors for a project that quickly stopped being publicised as it ran out of energy.

Dennis
January 19, 2022 8:49 pm

Re energy, specifically EV recharging, this morning on talkback radio a rather naive presenter interviewed an EV enthusiast who has been undertaking long distance EV driving trips and promoting them. He admitted that recharging in remote areas is almost impossible in Australia because road houses (fuel stops) have little or no spare electricity with supply coming from diesel generators at each site. So this EV fan has developed a “bio energy” machine to carry on long drives.

As he described his invention and how it is fuelled from used vegetable oil obtained from road house kitchens along the route travelled it soon became obvious that his “invention” was a diesel generator purchased from a well known hardware chain and he make bio-diesel.

It became even more amusing when he said that his incentive to develop this “technology” was being rubbished on blogs for recharging his EV with an internal combustion diesel fuelled engine powered electricity generator.

I forget his name, sounded like griff.

MarkW
Reply to  Dennis
January 20, 2022 10:54 am

He gets an emotional lift when people point out what a hypocrite he is? Sounds a lot like Banton.

PCman999
Reply to  Dennis
January 22, 2022 8:47 am

Well by the rules of the Energy Transition, the biodiesel made from the cooking oil gets a free carbon green pass. Still it’s much better than the biodiesel produced from the former jungle areas of Borneo, certainly the evicted orangutans would prefer you use old cooking oil, or just regular fuel.

Grumpy Bill
January 20, 2022 4:00 am

If a geothermal plant were to be built in Centralia, PA, would it be a “Green/renewable” or “Fossil fuel fired” power plant?

Centralia mine fire – Wikipedia

PCman999
Reply to  Grumpy Bill
January 22, 2022 8:49 am

Awesome! A geothermal plant that might actually work!

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 20, 2022 8:37 am

Whenever geothermal energy comes up there is usually a mention of how well it works in Iceland. There geothermal is mostly an example of making do with what they have. Details from Wikipedia:

Iceland’s unique geology allows it to produce renewable energy relatively cheaply, from a variety of sources. Iceland is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which makes it one of the most tectonically active places in the world. There are over 200 volcanoes located in Iceland and over 600 hot springs.[7] There are over 20 high-temperature steam fields that are at least 150 °C [300 °F]; many of them reach temperatures of 250 °C.[7] This is what allows Iceland to harness geothermal energy, and these steam fields are used for heating everything from houses to swimming pools. Hydropower is harnessed through glacial rivers and waterfalls, both of which are in Iceland.[7]

Iceland also has a small population — 341,243 as of 2020 — so the per-capita geothermal resources are enormous. On the other hand, if all geothermal and hydroelectric energy were replaced with coal tomorrow, Iceland’s contribution to atmospheric CO2 concentration would still be unmeasurable.

Geothermal accounts for about 24% of electric production while hydro supplies 75%. A few small isolated islands use diesel generators. The largest single hydroelectric dam, the 690 MW Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant, is 100% dedicated to the nearby Alcoa aluminum smelter. The largest single geothermal plant is Hellisheiði Power Station at 303 MW. All the others are less than half that and most are less than 100 MW. A quick perusal shows the maximum well depth averages around 2,200 meters.

Most geothermal energy in Iceland is used for heat through an extensive district distribution network which supplies 89% of residences. There is no need for residential air conditioning; the hottest monthly average is July, when temperatures range from 10 to 15 degrees C (50 to 59 F).

With a handful of exceptions, all US geothermal plants are located in California, Nevada, or Utah. The largest geothermal electric plant in the world is the 1,500 MW The Geysers in California, but its annual capacity factor is 59% (this is from the Wikipedia summary page; when I run the calculation on 2018 output / nameplate I get only 46.8%). Only 6 out of 32 have nameplate ratings > 100 MW. Those have a combined nameplate capacity of 2,695 MW but produce annually just 11,010 GWh — a capacity factor of 46.6%. Most of the rest are rated at less than 50 MW.

So Iceland is a very special case; the conditions there simply do not apply to the US or any other country currently using a lot of fossil fuel. If you lived at most 3 degrees south of the arctic circle where all fossil fuels had to be imported, you’d be grateful for readily available geothermal heat.

PCman999
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 22, 2022 8:57 am

Anything successful in Alaska? Volcanicly active too, but again small population and too far from major populations south to export the power. Alaska produces lots of crude but I don’t think they have a refinery, so they have to import diesel and other refined fuels. If there’s isn’t enough natural gas available, then geothermal might be a good opportunity for Alaskans. Might.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  PCman999
January 23, 2022 3:46 pm
Icepilot(@icepilot)
January 20, 2022 4:43 pm

I’d support a major research & development program surrounding Yellowstone.

David A
Reply to  Icepilot
January 20, 2022 10:41 pm

Someone had to make the 100th comment.

Jim
January 26, 2022 9:52 am

For geothermal to be viable on a large scale, we must master hot-dry, closed-loop geothermal. High geothermal gradients are common at least in the West. The coincidence of high geothermal gradient, permeable rock and abundant super-heated groundwater are rare; water tends to be scarce in the West where geothermal gradient is high. Siting is the problem. Los Alamos experimented with a hot-dry geothermal system that was never funded for a full-scale demonstration. Lawrence Berkeley has been working on it as well.
Ormat, a geothermal company, has been blocked by the Courts recently from building a plant at Dixie Valley in Nevada due to environmental objections from the usual suspects. There never seem to be comparable environmental objections for wind turbines…
The logical thing is to fund Dept of Energy to build a full-scale demonstration plant for closed-loop geothermal on a Western military installation with high geothermal gradient, instead of the solar farms they have been putting up. Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona and Fallon NAS in Nevada are candidates. See also Coso geothermal field at China Lake NWS, California. Build a closed-loop demonstration plant specifically with cost in mind, document it and leave it to the industry to study the demonstration and figure out how to do it cheaper.

%d bloggers like this: