Baseload, Geothermal, Opinion & Commentary, Solar, Wind Power

Energy Cast Podcast: Geothermal – What you don’t see right under your feet

Geyser
Geothermal is abundant, baseload, renewable energy. Unfortunately, you're likely to have it only if your backyard looks like this. My guest is about to change that.

Energy Cast is a podcast featuring some of the top experts across all links in the energy industry chain, including renewables, generation and more! Jay Dauenhauer created the show and has been hosting Energy Cast for several years.

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I don’t mean to pick favorites, but geothermal is definitely near the top.  It is renewable, baseload, and potentially abundant.

The problem is that we have only been accessing geothermal energy where there is  naturally occurring underground water and geology to allow it to pass.

Enhanced Geothermal Systems artificially add water and fractures to the geology to create far more geothermal potential.

In Episode 62, we discussed how geothermal could provide up to 60 GW of energy by 2050, 26x the current output.  EGS could make that so.

Lauren Boyd is the Enhanced Geothermal Systems Program Manager for the  Department of Energy.  Since 2013, DOE has been preparing the FORGE (Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy) initiative to research an develop EGS’ potential.

“FORGE is aimed at solving those challenges with the community at a dedicated laboratory where we have more information than we ever have before about a subsurface site,” says Lauren.  She adds that the need for a collaborative workspace was essential.

The site they chose was near Milford, Utah.  The site was ideal for its geology (mostly granite), low permeability, and temperature sweet spot (175–225˚C).  The FORGE project is currently in Phase 3—Drilling and R&D.

In addition to geothermal power, Lauren also pointed out several examples of geothermal for other applications:

“We are sort of this one stop shop for everything that one could need in the energy arena,” she says.

FORGE also highlights the confluence of geothermal with its oil & gas partners.  She says while fracking shale (oil/gas) and granite (geothermal) are different, the monitoring technology is now overlapping.

“The fundamental difference with oil and gas, oil and gas in most cases, we’re trying to extract fluid in a massive quantity as much as we can out of the subsurface,” she says.  “For us, we’re trying to engineer the rock to do what we want it to do, to transport fluid throughout it for a 30-year lifetime.”

I also asked Lauren about the tendency for geothermal to not get the same attention as, say, wind and solar.

“Geothermal is an unseen resource,” she says.  “Some of that is what’s beautiful about geothermal.  It’s beneath our feet.  You don’t see it.  You aren’t taking up a lot of land to develop it. “We are sort of this one stop shop for everything that one could need in the energy arena.” (This article was originally posted in April 2020).


Energy Cast Podcast is hosted biweekly by Jay Dauenhauer.

Learn more about the podcast here.

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