AltaRock & Weyerhaeuser Sign Engineered Geothermal Exploration Deal

AltaRock Energy Inc. announced that it had finalized agreements with Weyerhaeuser Company and the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation allowing it to explore the potential for developing Engineered Geothermal System (EGS) projects in California, Oregon, and Washington.

The geothermal rights, totaling nearly 667,000 acres, include approximately 25,400 acres in Northern California, 378,500 acres in south-central and western Oregon, and 263,000 acres in western Washington. AltaRock will be granted an exclusive option by Weyerhaeuser to assess the geothermal potential and can convert up to 40 percent of the acreage rights to geothermal development leases within two years.

“We’re pleased to be working with Weyerhaeuser. AltaRock is confident in its ability to put this land to an environmentally friendly use that benefits both companies and the region. These geothermal rights will provide us with a pipeline of development projects to showcase our innovative technology, and generate jobs and clean, renewable energy,” said Don O’Shei, AltaRock’s CEO.

This agreement follows last month’s announcement that Google.org plans to invest US $6.25 million in AltaRock to help develop innovative technologies to achieve significant cost reductions and improved performance in EGS projects.

The traditional geothermal approach relies on finding naturally occurring pockets of steam and hot water. The EGS process, by comparison, replicates these conditions by fracturing hot rock, circulating water through the system, and using the resulting steam to produce electricity in a conventional turbine.

A recent MIT report on EGS estimates that just 2% of the heat below the continental United States between 3 and 10 kilometers, depths within the range of current drilling technology, is more than 2,500 times the country’s total annual energy use.

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