Archive for the ‘geothermal’ Category

National flag of South Korea

Is this the end for ‘enhanced’ geothermal technology? Note this quake was 1,000 times stronger than the next one of similar causes.

The nation’s energy ministry expressed ‘deep regret’, and said it would dismantle the experimental plant, as Nature News reports.

A South Korean government panel has concluded that a magnitude-5.4 earthquake that struck the city of Pohang on 15 November 2017 was probably caused by an experimental geothermal power plant.

The panel was convened under presidential orders and released its findings on 20 March.



It seems unlikely that hordes of angry protesters would rush to this project to complain about any alleged dangers of deep drilling – but you never know.

Drilling will start this week at what could become the UK’s first deep geothermal electricity plant in Cornwall, reports ITV News.

Two wells will be drilled through granite rock near St Day, the deepest of which will reach 4.5 kilometres.

Geothermal Engineering Ltd says the aim of the project is to demonstrate the potential of geothermal technology to produce electricity and renewable heat in the UK.


The edge of the Thwaites glacier [credit: NASA photograph by Jim Yungel]

This BBC report seems unaware that a study in 2014 found that parts of the Thwaites Glacier are subject to melting due to subglacial volcanoes and other geothermal “hotspots”. The existence of this group of volcanoes has long been known.

British and American scientists will assess the stability of one of Antarctica’s biggest ice streams, reports BBC News.

It is going to be one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in Antarctica.

UK and US scientists will lead a five-year effort to examine the stability of the mighty Thwaites Glacier.


Bitcoin [image credit: BBC]

Renewable energy has an unwelcome customer: ‘Bitcoin emits the equivalent of 17.7 million tons of carbon dioxide every year’ according to one recent report. Unless or until its bubble bursts, that figure is expected to rise.

KEFLAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Iceland is expected to use more energy “mining” bitcoins and other virtual currencies this year than it uses to power its homes, says AP News.

With massive amounts of electricity needed to run the computers that create bitcoins, large virtual currency companies have established a base in the North Atlantic island nation blessed with an abundance of renewable energy.

The new industry’s relatively sudden growth prompted lawmaker Smari McCarthy of Iceland’s Pirate Party to suggest taxing the profits of bitcoin mines.

The initiative is likely to be well received by Icelanders, who are skeptical of speculative financial ventures after the country’s catastrophic 2008 banking crash.



California is – somewhat optimistically perhaps – looking to phase out its use of fossil fuels, and equally reliable alternatives need to be found and developed.

Experts say the American West is full of geothermal reservoirs whose energy could power millions of homes. But extracting that energy isn’t easy, as NPR explains.

Three and a half hours east of Los Angeles lies the Salton Sea, a manmade oasis in the heart of the Mojave Desert.

It was created in 1905, when a canal broke and the Colorado River flooded the desert for more than a year. The Sea became a tourist hotspot in the 1950’s, perfect for swimming, boating, and kayaking.

But now, people are coming here looking for something else.


Image credit: The Local

It’s not the only place in the region to suffer but as The Local says ‘Staufen has really become a byword for failed geothermal drilling.’

A German town’s decision to invest in geothermal energy backfired badly after underground drilling went wrong and hundred of buildings began to fall apart.

Staufen, a town of 8,100 inhabitants on the edge of the Black Forest, envisioned a blissful new green energy future when work on the project began in 2007.

But when the drills hit groundwater, the pretty Baden Württenburg hamlet instead found itself in a battle for survival. More than 270 buildings have suffered fractures since the drills penetrated a layer of earth and struck groundwater in a yard right behind the town hall. 

“We’ve been in crisis mode for ten years,” Mayor Michael Benitz told news agency DPA. “It’s a slow-motion catastrophe.” A red banner that hangs from the damaged town hall proclaims: “Staufen must not fall apart”. 

But in some cases it almost already has.


H/T to @IntrepidWanders for this paper, which lays out in clear terms the argument for abiotic oil/gas. I’ll post the second half next.

Saturn seen across a sea of methane on Titan by Huygens probe 2005

Saturn seen across a sea of methane on Titan. Artists impression. Credit: NASA/JPL Gregor Kervina

Evgeny Yantovski
Independent researcher
Elsass str. 58, D-52068 Aachen, Germany

Thomas Gold was a main participant and contributor in the controversy between the biogenic
and abiogenic theories of the origin of hydrocarbons, a controversy launched by the abiogenic
views of Mendeleev and supported by other Russian and Ukrainian authors. The great success
of Gold’s forecasts is illustrated by a photo of the methane seas on the cold planetary body
Titan. Recently Scott et al.’s experiment on methane formation at high pressure suggests a
possibility of methane formation in the mantle. Some thermodynamic equilibrium
calculations suggest a possible exothermic reaction of carbon dioxide with fayalite producing
methane. In this view, carbon could play the role of an energy carrier from fayalite to
methane and then to a power plant and in a closed cycle be reinjected in Earth. Fayalite
becomes a fuel, with methane the energy carrier. Methane is then a renewable energy source.
The search for methane in Earth and resoluton of its origins deserve more efforts than ever


Guest post from Ben Wouters

Geothermal flux and the deep oceans.

To appreciate how the small geothermal flux of ~100 mW/m2 can play a significant role in our climate we’ll take a look at a cross-section of the Pacific in Fig 1.


Fig 1

A typical temperature profile is given in Fig 2 below

Fig 2

Fig 2

First the profile below ~1000 m. Slowly decreasing temperature with depth, more or less the same for all latitudes. The dark blue layer (~30 C) can be regarded as the top of the cold deep oceans. From 1000 m. upward the temperature increases rapidly, warmest water at the surface in the (sub) tropics. The dark blue layer only reaches the surface at high latitudes (red arrows). All water above this dark blue layer is warmed from above by the sun, either directly or indirectly. This layer also loses its energy again at the surface to the atmosphere, and eventually to space. Solar energy only warms the upper ~1000 m. between ~50N and 55S. How high the surface temperatures will be, depends on the temperature of the deep oceans and how much the sun can warm the upper layer above the deep ocean temperature.


I came across this paper today while searching for the heat capacity of Venus near surface atmosphere, which is actually an ocean-like (in thermodynamic terms) supercritical fluid. It presages Harry Dale Huffman’s ‘rediscovery’ of the lapse rate calculation by four decades. Another paper, much more recent, (Bolmatov et al 2013) contains some theory which raises yet more questions about the reasons for Venus’ high surface temperature. So, greenhouse due to radiative proerties of co2 as Sagan claimed, lapse rate due to gravity and pressure as Nikolov and Zeller maintain, or the thermal properties of supercritical fluids and geothermal energy having a hard time escaping the lower atmosphere? Let the debate recommence!


(more…) finds a nice way of saying the doomsters have completely misunderstood the reason why the West Antarctic Ice Sheet outlet has been thinning. New research finds hotter than previously thought geothermal activity underneath the glacier. This means the animated model showing massive WAIS recession by 2350 Cabot Institute director Prof. Rich Pancost was scaring the punters with down at SPRI last week is junk science:

Thwaites Glacier, the large, rapidly changing outlet of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, is not only being eroded by the ocean, it’s being melted from below by geothermal heat, researchers at the Institute for Geophysics at The University of Texas at Austin (UTIG) report in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The findings significantly change the understanding of conditions beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet where accurate information has previously been unobtainable.

The Thwaites Glacier has been the focus of considerable attention in recent weeks as other groups of researchers found the glacier is on the way to collapse, but more data and computer modeling are needed to determine when the collapse will begin in earnest and at what rate the sea level will increase as it proceeds. The new observations by UTIG will greatly inform these ice sheet modeling efforts.


Influence of Geothermal Heat on past and present climate


Ben Wouters
Zuid Scharwoude, februari 2014, V 1.4

Current climate science asserts that the sun does not provide enough energy to explain our current pleasant surface temperatures. The Effective temperature for a planet at our distance from the sun without atmosphere is calculated as ~255K, and the atmosphere is supposedly adding ~33K to arrive at the average surface temperature of ~288K for planet Earth. (1)

Interestingly our Moon is such a planet. It reflects less solar radiation than Earth, but its average surface temperature is a mere 197K, as measured by the Diviner Project. (2)

So the assertion that solar energy is not able to explain our surface temperatures is correct, but the temperature difference to explain is at least ~90K. (3)


geyser_380x271From the Institute of Physics website: Further confirmation of significant tidal force operating in the moon systems of the Gas Giants. Contributor Oldbrew and I have been working on the orbital configurations and have some news related to the Phi planetary discovery made earlier in the year here at the talkshop we’ll be posting about soon.

In 1980 and 1981 NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft flew past the ringed planet and found Enceladus’s surface unusually smooth. This suggested that something was erasing its craters. Then in 2005 the Cassini spacecraft discovered water vapour around Enceladus. Cassini soon found the surprising source: geysers around the moon’s south pole shoot water vapour and ice particles hundreds of kilometres above the surface.  Planetary scientist Matthew Hedman of Cornell University and his colleagues have examined 252 near-infrared images from Cassini. “The brightness of the plume varied quite a bit,” says Hedman, who found it four times brighter when Enceladus is farthest from Saturn than when closest. These observations agree with a prediction made in a paper published in 2007 by Terry Hurford of the Goddard Space Science Center in Maryland, who had calculated how Enceladus would respond to Saturn’s tide.


earth cross section

I think there are probably quite a lot of ramifications to this news for climateers to consider which I’m too tired to think of. Over to the talkshop massive:

The core of the Earth is nearly 1,000 degrees hotter than previously thought, making it as fiery as the surface of the sun.

Following new experiments, scientists have established that the core temperature is 6,000 C, much higher than the previous estimate of 5,000.

Using X-rays to probe into the behaviour of iron crystals, putting samples of iron under extreme pressure, researchers were able to examine how iron crystals melt and form.

The new tests, using one of the world’s most intense sources of X-rays located at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, the research team were able to re-create the same pressure at the core.

Here is much better copy, the original press release PDF here


Despite the complete lack of evidence that human CO2 emissions cause any warming of the atmosphere, millions will be driven into fuel poverty as the snow continues to fall on chilly Britain. Even the MET Office has revised its five year forecast downwards to show almost no warming over the next five years, as revealed here at the Talkshop in early January. This unsound measure will cost jobs and drive industry abroad. We need some organisations with deep pockets to mount  a legal challenge to this madness. People will die as a direct result of this irresponsible and scientifically unsupported government climate policy.

Britain’s carbon tax: unfair and ineffective
Gerard Wynn – Reuters market analyst

The tax, called “carbon price support” by the British government, is [to be] levied on suppliers of fossil fuels to power plants and these will pass on the cost to electricity consumers.

It has uniquely united environmentalists and energy-intensive industries in opposition.

The tax will be applied when the price of European Union allowances (EUAs) is lower than a rising price floor per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) under the British scheme.

The idea is to send a clearer, long-term signal to investors in low carbon energy who may be deterred by the volatility of EUA prices.

The tax will be an important part of the British government’s support package to attract investment in new nuclear power.

By raising wholesale power prices by more than 10 percent by 2015, however, it will also provide an unmerited windfall for existing low carbon generation including nuclear power and wind farms.

Applying the tax inversely to the price of EUAs seemed to be a clever way to avoid charging polluters twice, as a flat-rate British carbon tax would have done.

But with the benefit of hindsight, it is also the scheme’s biggest weakness.

First, European carbon price have collapsed, making them far cheaper than the UK floor price and increasing the size of the tax.

Second, insofar as the scheme succeeds in cutting emissions by factories and power plants, it will decrease demand for EUAs, which can then be snapped up by other European polluters, simply displacing emissions in an effect called carbon leakage.


In a Bishop Hill discussion about some very dodgy stats methods the mainstream cli-sci community is using, this nice little factoid popped up from commenter ‘dearieme’:

The Jeffreys Prior: fine, but one must be careful not to follow Sir Harold in all his science.

From Wikipedia: Jeffreys was a strong opponent of continental drift. For him, continental drift was “out of the question” because no force even remotely strong enough to move the continents across the Earth’s surface was evident.

GPS measured global plate motion. Source: Wikipedia commons

GPS measured global plate motion. Source: Wikipedia commons

Which put me in mind of those solar scientists such as Leif Svalgaard who say that planetary effects on the Sun are “out of the question because no force from the planets even remotely strong enough to affect the Sun is evident”.

Which led me to wonder if consideration of the forces which move continents around might throw up any ideas about the planetary-solar connection. What I discovered on Wikipedia’s plate tectonics page is that the question of what the forces are, and how strong they are relative to each other is very much an open question and a hot subject of ongoing debate.