In mid-February, the Geological Society of London raised the hopes of those promoting geothermal energy when results of exploratory drilling in Weardale, County Durham, revealed record levels of permeability in granite. Although the results are promising for the development of geothermal energy, they may have less welcome implications for the safe disposal of radioactive waste in deep repositories.
"It’s déjà vu all over again," said Yogi Berra. The Hall of Fame catcher could easily have been predicting the coming resurgence of natural gas – fired generation. Yes, a few more coal plants will be completed this year, but don’t expect any new plant announcements. A couple of nuclear plants may actually break ground, but don’t hold your breath. Many more wind turbines will dot the landscape as renewable portfolio standards dictate resource planning, but their peak generation contribution will be small. The dash for gas in the U.S. has begun, again.
Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) deliberately induce seismicity — earthquakes — in order to access hot, subsurface rocks for use in geothermal power generation. Recent quakes around the world have frightened those living near EGS sites and sparked controversy over the technique. We asked experts to provide EGS technical details and to evaluate the seismic risk the process poses.
Renewable Generation in North America
(Web supplement to "Assessing the Earthquake Risk of Enhanced Geothermal Systems.") The future of geothermal energy will be driven by six primary technologies, but each will pose its own challenges.
Q: What do you get when you gather roughly two dozen top researchers from academia, government, and industry to speak on interdisciplinary energy-related issues for a week?
A: A lot of informative but crowded slides, high-octane brain power, fact-based analysis of where we are and we’re headed globally, informed questions, and surprisingly practical answers.
Though Canada is rich in fossil fuels, nuclear power may fuel a significant portion of the nation’s future electrical generation needs, especially in provinces that have traditionally relied on hydropower and fossil fuels.
Geothermal energy in Europe may have been used for centuries — it was popularized by the Romans and adopted by the Turks — but geothermal-generated electricity was first produced at Larderello, Italy, in 1904. Since then, its growth on the continent has shot up to 820 MW. But, according to the European Renewable Energy Council, the resource’s full potential has barely been harnessed.
Dozens of institutional investors in U.S. renewable energy projects pulled out of the market when the nation’s liquidity reserves dried up late last year. Some left the renewable market sector in search of more lucrative investment opportunities. Others found themselves unable to take advantage of the attractive tax credits because they themselves lacked profits against which to use the credits. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, approved February 13, changed the investor ground rules — again.
Seventy-five countries from around the world joined a new political agency dedicated to the acceleration of green energy this January, but several notable nations — including the U.S., Canada, Australia, UK, Japan, and China — were not among them.