Print 77 comment(s) - last by iNGEN.. on Aug 27 at 6:04 PM

EGS, an incredibly promising form of geothermal, involves drilling down to "basement rock", the hot outer layer of the crust, and pumping water down into it to produce steam. Just a tiny percentage of the underground heat capacity of the U.S. could power the nation thousands of times over.  (Source: AltaRock)
New energy source could offer 2,500 times nation's power needs, according to MIT

The world of alternative energy is a confusing one filled with choices.  There's nuclear, solar, wind, and biofuels (such as algae).  Each technology has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.

One technology that's too often forgotten in the mix is geothermal energy.  With interest in alternative energy at an all-time high, the geothermal energy business is seeing a rebirth.  From harnessing volcanic steam deposits to prospecting America's many geothermal sites, many promising projects are currently underway.

Perhaps the most promising source of geothermal is a brand new method called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).  Where traditional geothermal involves finding naturally occurring steam pockets in the hot layers of rock beneath the Earth's crust, EGS skips the troublesome prospect and makes its own steam, by drilling down the hot rock, cracking it, and then pumping water into the cracks to form steam.  The result -- instant power virtually anywhere in the country.

According to MIT, just 2 percent of the heat between 3 and 10 kilometers beneath the crust of the Earth in the continental U.S. contains enough energy to produce 2,500 the amount of power our country produces yearly.  Literally, just EGS power from the U.S. could power the world.  And these depths are all within the reach of current drilling equipment.

Google is very impressed by the promise of EGS.  Google has decided to invest $10.25M USD to help startups develop the technology as part of its philanthropic arm's initiatives, which aim to produce alternative energy power at rates cheaper than coal.  The Google investment will not only cover the continuing development and deployment of the technology itself, but also the development EGS information tools, advanced geothermal resource mapping, and promotion of geothermal public policy on a government level.

Dan Reicher, Director of Climate and Energy Initiatives for states, "EGS could be the 'killer app' of the energy world. It has the potential to deliver vast quantities of power 24/7 and be captured nearly anywhere on the planet. And it would be a perfect complement to intermittent sources like solar and wind."

The latest Google funding for EGS goes to two companies and a university.  AltaRock Energy, Inc. is one of the recipients and will receive $6.25M USD to help it actualize its EGS vision.  The second investment of $4M USD goes to Potter Drilling, Inc., which is exploring new methods of drilling cheaper and techniques for drilling into deep, hard rock, a technology critical to EGS.  Finally Google will deliver a grant of $489,521 to Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab to aid it in its projects of updating geothermal maps of America.

Dr. Larry Brilliant, executive director of also delivered praise for the new direction.  He states, "Innovation is the path to massive quantities of cleaner, cheaper energy. The people we're funding today have a real shot at lowering the cost of EGS, and bringing us closer to our goal of Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal."

Mr. Reicher quickly adds, "EGS is critical to the clean electricity revolution we need to solve the climate crisis, but EGS hasn't received the attention it merits. That's why we're pressing for expanded support from government and increased investment from the private sector.  EGS is critical to the clean electricity revolution we need to solve the climate crisis, but EGS hasn't received the attention it merits. That's why we're pressing for expanded support from government and increased investment from the private sector."

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RE: Hope
By daftrok on 8/19/2008 6:58:40 PM , Rating: -1
1) Endangering of Polar Bears and other arctic animals due to the melting of ice caps
2) Thousands of lung disease related deaths in China due to heavy air pollution
3) Endangering of aquatic life due to dumping of waste in oceans
4) Wasting of materials and other acts of suspicious origins:
5) Millions of innocent civilians dying due to black market trade of weapons and chemical warfare in Africa.

Killing the planet just doesn't mean trees, it means animals and people too.

RE: Hope
By Spuke on 8/19/2008 7:18:20 PM , Rating: 2
Killing the planet just doesn't mean trees, it means animals and people too.

1. Black children in urban areas get killed by gang violence.
2. Car crashes kill more youths every year than any other method.
3. 3.8 million people died in the Congo civil war.
4. 2 million people died from AIDS last year.
5. Britney Spears lost custody of her children.

I didn't ask for a list of atrocities and injustices. I asked for a list of how WE are "killing the planet". You and I both know what he means by "killing the planet" and I want these clowns to back up their statements.

RE: Hope
By heffeque on 8/19/08, Rating: -1
RE: Hope
By Alexstarfire on 8/26/2008 10:01:17 AM , Rating: 1
In denial of what? The dude he replied to didn't list one thing that's killing the planet. He just listed things that are killing people/animals/plants on the planet. Wipe out the whole surface of the planet and it's still not dead. This planet will be dead when it either gets destroyed, like breaking apart, or whenever it's stops producing heat in it's core.

Though are two things that humans simply aren't capable of.

RE: Hope
By Lord 666 on 8/19/08, Rating: -1
RE: Hope
By omnicronx on 8/20/2008 10:46:34 AM , Rating: 2
You are being pretty naive here, while I am one of the first to say that global warming probably does not exist, it is pretty childish to say that the human race is not effecting the world we live in at an ever growing pace.

I firmly believe that the mother nature has a self defense mechanism in which it can repair itself to a certain degree. At the same time I think we are starting to push the limits of how much damage we can do without permanent repercussions.

It is fact, not a bunch of non scientific observations that the ocean is one of the many areas in which even the smallest amount of human interference, can greatly effect ocean ecosystems, which in tern could greatly effect ours.

Contrary to most peoples beliefs, there are only a limited amounts of food sources in the ocean (for surface mammals and fish), and for the most part, is a seasonal event for many of these creatures. It has been greatly documented that the rise in ocean temperature has been effecting plankton population(they gather in the northern parts of the ocean in what is a yearly phenomenon that can be seen from space).

Not only does the plankton end up feeding a huge portion of the fish and mammal population (this includes mammals eating the fish that ate the plankton) but plankton releases more oxygen into the atmosphere than all of the worlds rain forests combined(it also filters out C02 during photosynthesis). It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out what could happen if an oxygen source like this is seriously depleted.

From the countless amounts of runoff water being pumped into the ocean, to the disturbance of the life abundant coral reefs, we are without a doubt effecting the world we live in.
Now whether or not mother nature will be able to repair the damage we have done is a totally different story, one which is very hard to prove, regardless of the side you are on.


RE: Hope
By masher2 on 8/20/2008 10:57:17 AM , Rating: 2
> " At the same time I think we are starting to push the limits of how much damage we can do "

The global land and sea biomass -- the total amount of all living creatures -- is well-documented to be growing at a substantial pace.

When all one reads in the mainstream media is how badly we're "damaging a fragile planet", it's not hard to form an opinion such as yours. But the facts don't bear out such a conclusion.

RE: Hope
By omnicronx on 8/20/2008 12:06:15 PM , Rating: 2
I have done my research thank you very much, and the total amount of living creatures has absolutely no bearing on my post. There are many factors that can be attributed to the increase in the amount of increase in all living creatures. I also find it interesting that you mention that life in general has increased, but you fail to mention that large mammals and bird life is decreasing.

It the rapid demise of Plankton concerning (it is not increasing!). As I have previously stated, the gathering of plankton is a yearly event that can be seen from space, we are not talking about an estimation based solely on statistics here.

Even nasa's own study's have shown that there have been a shift in cloriphil levels from the north to the south.
chlorophyll concentrations decreased in the northern high latitudes while chlorophyll in the low latitudes increased.
While at first glance one could argue that the plankton are merely 'just moving', this is not the case. Sea life including plants in southern areas have been increasing, which in tern will increase sea life levels, but plankton needs colder waters too survive, so it is not the source the increasing chlorophyll levels in the south.

What makes matters even worse is that there are two distinct kinds of plankton, zooplankton (tiny animal like) and phytoplankton (tiny plant like) both of which heavily depend on one another(zooplankton releases the fertilizer like substance that can be see as a blanket of green from space). Scientists can only estimate the total plankton population with satellite imagery, but they can not estimate the levels of two sub species. What they can do is draw conclusions by the plankton levels by looking at other creatures in the sea, that specifically depend on the plankton to survive.
Small filter feeders, like scallops, are growing at slower rates, especially in areas farther from the shorelines. Large filter feeders are in SEVERE trouble, (like the Northern Right Whale). These trend,s and others, indicate the presence of less plankton in the oceans.

This is an excellent site that outlines what plankton is, how they are measured, and the repercussions that could possibly occur. You will find that this is not a biased article, as it lists facts for both arguments.

RE: Hope
By wordsworm on 8/20/2008 9:22:19 PM , Rating: 2
You remind me of those pigs from Animal Farm that go around saying that there are increases in everything, when clearly the opposite is true. You're so out of touch with reality it's quite astonishing. Why don't you go talk to some old fishermen to ask them if there are more or less fish in the sea? I used to think all Republicans were like this - until I observed the governator in action - I never expected him to be a great politician. Yet, I can't help but think that you're a Republican spokesman for all the fictitious counter-spin that you spout.

But, when one's mother is also one's half sister, it's easy to be a half-wit.

RE: Hope
By masher2 on 8/19/2008 8:07:56 PM , Rating: 3
> "1) Endangering of Polar Bears and other arctic animals due to the melting of ice caps"

The ice caps began melting over 7,000 years ago, after the end of the last ice age. They will melt whether we are here or not. Polar bear populations are on the rise in any case, and recent research has revealed that polar bears survived the last interglacial period during a period in which no ice caps existed whatsoever.

> "2) Thousands of lung disease related deaths in China due to heavy air pollution"

And many here in the US as well. Unfortunately, environmentalists are keeping those polluting coal plants active by denying us the only energy source currently able to supplant them -- nuclear.

> ") Wasting of materials and other acts of suspicious origins: "

I don't know what an "act of suspicious origin" entails exactly, but I don't see how wasting materials translates to "killing the planet"

> "Millions of innocent civilians dying due to black market trade of weapons "

The largest number of deaths in Africa are from malaria -- a disease environmentalists worsened dramatically by banning DDT. AIDs runs a close second and -- despite what you might have read in the tabloids -- it's not due to US biowarfare research.

Among violent deaths, the largest such event in recent memory was the Rwandan genocide. The majority of those murdered were killed with nothing more than knives and clubs.

RE: Hope
By slunkius on 8/20/08, Rating: -1
RE: Hope
By Ringold on 8/20/2008 1:56:21 AM , Rating: 2
If nuclear works, should he ignore it because repetition somehow makes it less true, or because its not as fashionable? :P

RE: Hope
By slunkius on 8/20/2008 6:40:35 AM , Rating: 1
many things work. one of them could be geothermal. so it would be nice to hear about geothermal advantages and disadvantages, not the regular "nuclear is the future, greenpeace sucks, yada yada"

RE: Hope
By mdogs444 on 8/20/2008 7:07:15 AM , Rating: 2
not the regular "nuclear is the future, greenpeace sucks, yada yada"

because you're having trouble seeing past the facts? Nuclear is, and should be, the focus of the future. And Greenpeace does suck.

RE: Hope
By FITCamaro on 8/20/2008 3:30:44 PM , Rating: 2
I've no problem with geothermal. Like nuclear, the energy potential is enormous and unlike other sources of clean energy (besides nuclear) it does not suffer from a low availability factor. Unless center of the Earth suddenly cools, it will provide power literally forever provided the plant is maintained.

RE: Hope
By masher2 on 8/20/2008 10:36:08 AM , Rating: 2
> "many things work. one of them could be geothermal"

Very few things work for power generation at present, when one defines "work" as generating energy at a cost that doesn't incapacitate the economy.

I've said many times that geothermal power shows a great deal of promise. But nuclear technology is a proven solution, not something that may or may not pan out at some misty point in the future.

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