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 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.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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