"Why would we leave a resource with the potential to supply over 1% of all of the electrical needs of California undeveloped?"
Didn't your mommy and daddy teach you the golden rule - "Them as has gets?"
I was invested in The Geysers way back before B.C. McCabe brought in the very first large geothermal field that is still the largest in the world despite decades of vampire management after it was subjected to a hostile takeover. The power generated was so cheap that price was based on a discount from fossil fuels and it was still a bonanza. B.C. became a very rich man as a result of the takeover but was a broken man as happens with visionaries.
People still fight geothermal with all manner of half-truths and outright lies as the weakling unreliables, solar and wind, get all the gold not allocated to fossil fuels. The miracle at the wedding at Cana when water was turned into wine was piddling nonsense compared to Obama turning tap water all over country into firewater with fracking.
"I would like to see geothermal evolve from steam-turbine generation to closed loop nitrogen (N2) engines as well, so its use and application can be utilized to areas with water scarcity too"
Interesting comment though not clear to me how that is supposed to work.
Ammonia is already a fuel as well as a nitrogen fertilizer. It has been caught in air filters on an enclosed pig farm on Jutland Island Peninsula, Denmark, where it is used to grow tomatoes. The Danes advertise pigs raised without the stench though perhaps don't boast about the tomatoes being fertilized by pig stench. :-)
Geothermal power plants have typically been situated in desert areas where water is scarce often using water towers for cooling at considerable cost in power output. The geothermal wells are sometimes advertised as sources of water as opposed to a drain on fresh water supplies.
Lots to learn and adapt to the mightiest source of power on Mother Earth that far exceeds all other sources combined - earth itself.
"Giant King Grass uses local natural resources of warm weather, sunshine, rain and soil to produce a renewable and sustainable fuel."
I don't see any mention of irrigation or fertilization.
Maybe they forgot to mention them. :-)
When biomass is burned for energy, the carbon is recycled. Fossil fuels on the other hand retrieve carbon that has been sequestered deep underground.
Much of decaying biomass is converted to the far more potent greenhouse gas, methane. Our Secretary of Energy says that methane "just goes away" after a decade or so. That is a new kind of physics that no one has told us about. Actually it eventually breaks down to produce CO2.
The purported horror of burning biomass is rather odd.
"Biomass burning is among the least efficient ways of generating electricity, but hey, so are windmills"
At least that's on the money about windmills. The only thing worse is solar. It makes as much as sense as gathering butterflies for fuel.
Waste can be recycled and converted to energy but burying it is only better than dumping it in water. Landfill gases can only be partially retrieved and are enormously polluting when burned unless they are cleaned. Cleaning is quite expensive and risky.
There.is.no.need.to.grow.biomass. Waste is everywhere. Some crematoriums are even generating electricity from the dear departed though not efficiently.
Lockheed is quite serious about generating power from OTEC, seemingly the most unlikely of all sources. OTEC would use the temperature differentials in bodies of water for power.
Lots of ways to skin a cat but we always choose the worst first. Cats are likely against all ways of being skinned. :-)
Distributed baseload green energy is the best answer.
How do you top burning waste for energy?
With geothermal which is vastly more powerful than all other sources combined.
Iceland uses both in one plant in the isolated hamlet of Husavik where a trash burner squeezes another MW or two out of tepid waters.
"Geothermal causes earthquakes"
Yes and no.
Earthquakes are caused by the most powerful force on earth, the movement of the tectonic plates resulting from nuclear fission primarily in the core of the earth.
It would be misleading to leave it at that but the claim earthquakes are caused by geothermal drilling and recycling of geothermal brines is somewhat akin to claiming butterfly wings cause tornadoes in Kansas. Both are true to a degree though only geothermal drilling need be addressed and caution taken. All drilling can tip the scales like the last straw on a camel's back but only geothermal takes the heat, so to speak.
"the cheapest geothermal is open cycle"
The cheapest geothermal power by far is small, closed-cycle, localized, low temperature geothermal power that may not even require drilling.
"We can never have a sustainable world without completely recycling all our wastes."
I essentially agree.
"Ok, geothermal triggers earthquakes IS more precise, agreed. But people hate it. Like fracking, it triggers a nearly continuous stream of earthquakes"
In Iceland, people know geothermal and love it. Geothermal there is a religion. It turned a country of paupers into a country of wealth.
In America you mostly get blank stares from people when you mention geothermal. This ancient country boy was raised in area where low entropy geothermal used for heating mansions, a hospital, a large school, de-icing streets and sidewalks as well as numerous agriculture projects was known by a small minority of the inhabitants but had few haters among the cognescenti. There has long been a small group of fans that could be described as a cult starting way back with pioneering use about 1890.
The last time I visited Klamath Falls, the evidence of an earthquake downtown from years before was still clearly visible but no one from the area that I know and met blamed geothermal.
Well California is California.
"Quakes" are triggered when you walk across the floor or land on our unstable planet. Only some quakes can be measured and one has to be prepared to find the triggering culprit.
Earthquake swarms are not common. Triggering of such swarms is a matter of investigation but obviously the geology is not common.
Some geothermal power requires no, zero, zip, nada drilling. Japanese hot springs provide scalding hot water that must cool before being used in baths but spas fought use for geothermal power tooth and nail. Seemed it would offend the spirits much as Hawaiians fought geothermal power that would anger Pele, the Goddess of Fire.
Such gods and goddesses are not in good repute today but some purported environmentalists who are no better are held in the same reverence with their mythology that has even claimed geothermal is not renewable. It is true that there is only a 10 billion year supply of fissionable material but that ol' divil sun will swallow Mother Earth and all her inhabitants after about 8 billion years in its death throes according to current estimates.
"40% of geothermal systems are dry steam, 45% are flash."
Exactly 2 geothermal power plants are dry steam and no more will ever be built. Large power plants are flash for very hot brines, binary for lower entropy waters. There are smaller plants like even the Kalina cycle plant in the hamlet of Husavik, Iceland, that uses a trash burner to add heat to tepid warm spring waters. A newer project in Iceland that drilled into the cage of a magma trying to reach supercritical waters is under investigation for a whole new kind of power plant.
What is truly different about Iceland and Chena, Alaska, is not the availability of geothermal power but knowledge and acceptance.
Thank you for the discussion. Hazards and problems will never be denied by myself nor will benefits of way overhyped renewables like solar, believe as you will.
"85% open, 15% binary."
Be careful, friend. The report you link to says no such thing. It does report binary at 15% but binary is not the only closed loop system and only the two antique dry steam plants mined only hot water with no re-injection.
Some excellent information in the report which mostly applies only to the U.S. which is losing its leadership through misguided hostility to the greenest energy of all. The following is all copied from the report with editing where needed because of formatting problems:
A conversion technology represents the entire process of turning hydrothermal resources into electricity. Four options are available to developers:
- Dry steam plants, which have been operating for over one hundred years, make use of a direct flow of geothermal steam.
- The most common type of power plant, a flash power plant, uses a mixture of iquid water and steam.
- Binary geothermal plants function as closed loop systems that make use of resource temperatures as low as 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). A Rankine cycle is the commercial binary cycle used in the United States.
- A combination of flash and binary technology, known as the flash/binary combined cycle, has been used effectively to take advantage of both technologies.
The most common type of power plant to date is a flash power plant, where a mixture of liquid water and steam is produced from the wells. About 45 percent of geothermal electricity production in the U.S. comes from flash technology. At a flash facility, hot
liquid water from deep in the earth is under pressure and thus kept from boiling. As this hot water moves from deeper in the earth to shallower levels, it quickly loses pressure, boils and “flashes” to steam. The steam is separated from the liquid in a surface vessel
(steam separator) and is used to turn the turbine, and the turbine powers a generator. Flash power plants typically require resource temperatures in the range of 350 to 500 degrees F (177 degrees C to 260 degrees C).
[Lower temperature resources require other technology but the given temperatures do not prohibit binary plants. The flash plants are simply cheaper. The vast majority of geothermal resources are low entropy.]
"Clearly if we cool the crust by over extraction of geothermal heat, it will harden, thus changing the location, intensity and frequency of earthquakes."
You might as well try to dry up the oceans one teaspoonful at a time.
The ultimate source of geothermal energy is the small star at the core of the earth that causes the movement of the tectonic plates. Once the very idea of floating continents was anathema to geologists just as the thought of an alien visitor [asteroid, comet] exterminating the last of the dinosaurs would have enraged geologists in classes I took. Today a certain isotope in hot springs is thought to indicate the source of heat arises from the mantle of the earth. The line between direct use geothermal for warming and geothermal power is dissolving as direct geothermal complexes are beginning to generate power after the usual stumbles with new technology and new knowledge:
Thank you for being concerned about the harm being done to the planet by fossil fuels but drilling for water pre-dates by millenia drilling for fossil fuels without the threat we see from fossil fuels. Even attempts to create synthetic aquifers in granites have found some already created by Mother Earth. No poisons are needed as with natural gas and petroleum frackers.
"Terry, the binary system is the only one around that does not have co2 and sometimes Hydrogen sulfide emissions."
My friend, your very source refutes your notions again. That's why it can be helpful to quote the "biblical" line you wish to refer to.
Let me give you a fer instance from my own life experience and then abandon my quest with no ill will at all. Your concern is appreciated though not particularly your blindness from gazing too long at the sun.
The Hallinan hot spring has been pouring toxic elements onto the ground and into the atmosphere some 70 years since our house burned down. We drank the dreadful water and used it for the usual purposes but first we had to refrigerate it with one of those refrigerators that used a flame to cool.
Had we used modern technology to heat and power the house and did not return the water to the spring, how exactly would we have added to the planet's frightening burden? On the other hand, we might have capped the resource and extracted elements from it but that is another matter.
For reference only:
Real true western heroes who are far greater than the legends:
"There are those who argue that everything breaks even in this old dump of a world of ours. I suppose these ginks who argue that way hold that because the rich man gets ice in the summer and the poor man gets it in the winter things are breaking even for both. Maybe so, but I'll swear I can't see it that way." (These were also Masterson's last recorded words, which were in the bit of column found on the typewriter Masterson was using before he died while typing).
The second is far greater and nearly forgotten after he brought in the first large scale geothermal power plant at The Geysers and then had it stolen from him - B.C. McCabe.
The Geysers remains the largest producer of geothermal power in the world even after a half century of vampire management. The cost of power was cheaper than fossil fuels when a barrel of saudi light crude sold for about $5. Reimbursement for green power was fixed at a fraction of the price of power generated from fossil fuels.