Since July, I have been studying and following the progress of a technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) as it has been tested by Sausalito-based AltaRock Energy at The Geysers, an active geothermal field just 12 air miles from my home in Northern California.
A week ago, New York Times reporter James Glanz wrote that Altarock Energy “has removed its drill rig and informed federal officials that the government project will be abandoned.” Only one day before this report, the controversial Basel, Switzerland, project that was supposed to lead the EGS technology parade was also abandoned.
Obama’s Department of Energy was a financial sponsor of the AltaRock venture. Google and others had invested. Yet AltaRock’s website makes no mention of this major corporate setback.
There will be more news, I suspect.
My earlier posts are:
Enhanced Geothermal Energy and Man-Made Earthquakes—7/2/09
Enhanced Geothermal Energy and Man-Made Earthquakes (Part 2)—7/16/09
Enhanced Geothermal Energy Project Halted in The Geysers—9/3/09
Is the Production of Geothermal Energy in The Geysers a “Public Nuisance”?—9/27/09
On September 15, less than a fortnight after AltaRock Energy halted its geothermal drilling in The Geysers, the Anderson Springs Community Alliance (ASCA), a small but formidable opponent of the AltaRock project, fired another salvo: this time charging the area’s main producer of geothermal energy with a public nuisance.
In a formal complaint and petition addressed to the Board of Supervisors of Lake and Sonoma Counties for “Remedy of Ongoing Public Nuisance from Geothermal Earthquakes Caused by Operations of Calpine Corp./Geysers Power Company, LLC at The Geysers,” ASCA specifically cited a September 5 magnitude 2.8 earthquake as the latest of more than a thousand magnitude 2.0 or higher temblors epicentered within five miles of Anderson Springs since 2000. These, ASCA contends, constitute an ongoing public nuisance. [A link to the complaint will be posted here when it goes online.]
According to the complaint, “Most residents of Anderson Springs were awakened by the jolt and noise of this earthquake; many were Continue reading “Is the Production of Geothermal Energy in The Geysers a “Public Nuisance”?”
Late in 2008, George Bush’s Department of Energy committed $6 million to Sausalito-based AltaRock Energy (as part of a consortium…see addendum below) for energy production using Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). EGS technology works by by injecting water down a deep well into hot rock, fracturing the rock and creating steam which is piped to the surface where it turns turbines and generates electricity. Yesterday, the project was halted due to drilling problems.
Continue reading “Enhanced Geothermal Energy Project Halted in The Geysers”
As described in a previous post, Sausalito-based AltaRock Energy is drilling a Lake County test well aimed at producing energy by utilizing a technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). AltaRock’s project is on federal land leased by the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) on a ridge just above the community of Anderson Springs, CA. According to an article published July 15 in the Lake County News, however, “concerns about the technology AltaRock is using has caused the Bureau of Land Management [BLM] and the Department of Energy [DOE] to decide to conduct further study before the work moves forward.”
In light of the earthquake activity caused by a similar EGS project in Basel, Switzerland in 2006, the question to be studied is: might EGS engender serious earthquakes here in California?
Continue reading “Enhanced Geothermal Energy and Man-Made Earthquakes (Part 2)”
Drill down just a few miles into the earth’s crust, and the temperature will rise substantially. This heat comes from three sources: emissions from radioactive minerals, the compressive force of gravity, and to a lesser extent, solar energy absorbed at the earth’s surface. Although such energy is not truly renewable (radioactive elements do eventually decay to energy-flat states), within any reasonable estimate of mankind’s tenancy on this planet, geothermal power is essentially limitless.
There are several techniques for transducing this energy from underground heat to in-the-grid electricity. One of these, a technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), is currently being tested by Sausalito-based AltaRock Energy only 12 beeline miles from my home in Northern California. Continue reading “Enhanced Geothermal Energy and Man-Made Earthquakes”