Archive for the ‘geothermal’ Category

The ‘geothermal moonshot’

Posted: November 7, 2022 by oldbrew in Energy, fracking, geothermal, research
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Geothermal is just as likely to run into legal challenges as other forms of underground energy recovery. The article below is part of ‘a special feature on the hazards and potential of geothermal energy’, featuring the habitat of Nevada’s tiny and endangered Dixie Valley toad.
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From his home office in Carson City, Nevada, Paul Schwering monitors an old gold mine in the Black Hills of South Dakota, approximately 1,000 miles away and a mile underground.

What was once the Homestake Gold Mine has been repurposed as a research station for enhanced geothermal systems, also known as engineered geothermal systems, a technology that could increase the United States’ geothermal power generating capacity 40-fold, says the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Energy experts estimate that geothermal energy could contribute up to 10 percent of US electricity generation, but only if researchers can figure out how to make enhanced geothermal systems work on a large scale.

Enhanced geothermal systems have been called the “geothermal moonshot.”

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Volcano alerts come and go, but magma disturbances under a geothermal plant are a bit different. A visit to the Blue Lagoon spa could get exciting…
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The alert level of the Reykjanes volcano in Iceland was just raised from green to yellow, says Strange Sounds.

This change was made in response to the confirmation of a new intrusion of magma on the Reykjanes peninsula.

This new intrusion is centered underneath the Svartsengi geothermal power plant, and is quite likely to result in a new volcanic eruption.

If an eruption were to occur, it would be likely to have an explosive component to it and potentially affect the city of Grindavik.

This video discusses the odds of a new volcanic eruption and how explosive it might be.
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Watchers News reports:
More than 3 000 earthquakes have been detected near Eldvörp in the Reykjanes/Svartsengi volcanic system in the past week. In addition, recent deformation observations identified the onset of a new inflation event west of Thorbjörn which is likely caused by magma intrusion.

[Not to scale]


The complaint now, or one of them, is that geothermal is free to do things the hydraulic fracturers weren’t allowed to do prior to their ban, and which in part led to the ban.
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Fracking companies have threatened to take legal action over the government’s ban on the practice, amid the sector’s growing frustration at being left behind the UK energy revolution, according to reports – City AM.

The sector sent “pre-action correspondence” to the government after fears prompted by earthquakes in 2019 led to a ban on drilling, according to the Telegraph, which first reported the news.

Among the fracking projects that had to be abandoned after the ban, was one financed by billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe whose company Ineos wrote off £63m in 2019.

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mineshaft

Coal mine shaft and winding tower [image credit: Andy Dingley @ Wikipedia]

First it has to work without serious drawbacks, then it has to make some economic sense, before even asking whether the plan might qualify as credible, let alone brilliant. 
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A plan to convert Britain’s disused, flooded coal mines into geothermal power plants is now gaining traction as permission is granted for a testing phase, says Oilprice.com.

Abandoned and flooded underground coal mines are plentiful in the North of England, Britain’s industrial revolution hub.

In South Tyneside, in the northeast of England, the Council has approved plans to “draw geothermal energy from abandoned flooded mines in the former Hebburn Colliery.” The mine was shut down in 1932 and has been disused since.

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illkirch 1er forage de géothermie

Image credit: Jérôme Dorkel – Eurométropole de Strasbourg

Home owner insurance claims are pouring in. The local ‘net zero’ emissions plan is in serious trouble.
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A series of minor human-induced earthquakes in the area of Strasbourg, eastern France, last December has reminded local inhabitants about the safety of geothermal energy, highlighting the challenges faced by deep drilling technology, says Euractiv.

In December, the area around Strasbourg was shaken by several induced tremors, including one of 3.5 magnitude, after a geothermal company carrying out tests injected high-pressure water into the ground earlier in the autumn.

Induced earthquakes – those caused by human activity – had begun since tests started in the Alsace region in October at the geothermal plant operated by Fonroche, a French energy company.

The tremors were directly linked to the starting-up activities of the plant, said the French association of geothermal professionals, the AFPG.

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Geothermal Power Plant in Iceland [image credit: Wikipedia]


Tapping into geothermal energy always seems like one of those ideas that maybe works in a few local areas, but won’t make a massive difference on the global scale. There’s also its earthquake problem to dent the enthusiasm of climate-obsessed ‘green’ ideologists.
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Drilling holes into an extinct volcano might sound like an unusual start to an energy project, says BBC News.

But that’s what J Michael Palin, a senior lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand, is planning to do.

His project involves drilling two boreholes to a depth of 500m (1,600ft) and monitoring the rock to see if it is suitable to provide geothermal energy.

“It has been known for some time that the Dunedin region has surface heat flow about 30% higher than expected based on previous measurements,” says Dr Palin.

It is that free heat that Dr Palin is hoping to tap into.

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Topographic map of Greenland


We’re told ‘The North Atlantic region is awash with geothermal activity’. Any day now we should be hearing how a few extra molecules of (human-caused) CO2 make the Earth’s innards hotter than they used to be. Or maybe we won’t.
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A team of researchers understands more about the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, says SciTech Daily.

They discovered a flow of hot rocks, known as a mantle plume, rising from the core-mantle boundary beneath central Greenland that melts the ice from below.

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The Geothermal Energy Revolution

Posted: December 15, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, geothermal, opinion

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Geothermal energy may sound tempting, but care is needed as South Korea found out.

PA Pundits - International

By David Wojick, Ph.D. ~

There is a revolution coming in geothermal energy. How big it will be and how fast it can grow remains to be seen, but the revolutionary technology is here now.

We already know about the new technology by name — fracking. But that is fracking for oil and gas, the energy revolution we are already living on, that the greens hate. The geothermal revolution is fracking for heat.

Here is the technical bit. The Earth’s crust we live on is just a thin film wrapped around an 8,000 mile diameter molten ball. In some places under the deep ocean this crust is estimated to be just 3 miles or so thick. It is somewhat thicker under the continents but the point remains; it gets hot fast as you drill down into the crust. That heat is geothermal energy.

We have used geothermal energy to make…

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Geothermal Power Plant in Iceland [image credit: Wikipedia]


Geothermal energy is expensive even compared to renewables, but are the economics about to change? Maybe not, as the Russians and Saudis seem to have called off their oil production war, so sudden availability of lots of experienced but out-of-work shale drillers may not happen, although the virus factor continues. Also subsidy rates are biased towards intermittent wind and solar, compared to more reliable geothermal power sources.

The coronavirus oil crash could be good news for this renewable energy underdog, says Grist.

Disruptions to supply chains and slowdowns in permitting and construction have delayed solar and wind projects, endangering their eligibility for the soon-to-expire investment tax credits they rely on.

There’s another form of renewable energy, however, that might see a benefit from the recent global economic upheaval and emerge in a better position to help the United States decarbonize its electricity system: geothermal.

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Geothermal Animated

Posted: April 5, 2020 by oldbrew in ENSO, geothermal, volcanos
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A recent online comment by meteorologist Joe Bastardi saying ‘underwater volcanic activity is huge’ and linking to this, led to finding this animation.

Zoe's Insights

Geothermal Emission @ the Surface

This was derived from NCEP Reanalysis data, in the tradition of Measuring Geothermal …

Enjoy 🙂 -Zoe

Addendum

geochg.sh:

# source geochg.sh # Zoe Phin 2020/03/13 F=(0 ulwrf dswrf uswrf lhtfl shtfl) O=(0 3201.5 3086.5 3131.5 856.5 2176.5) require() { sudo apt install nco gnuplot imagemagick; } # Linux Only download() { b="ftp://ftp.cdc.noaa.gov/Datasets/ncep.reanalysis2.derived/gaussian_grid" for i in ${F[*]}; do wget -O $i.nc -c $b/$i.sfc.mon.mean.nc; done } extract() { for t in {000..491}; do echo "$t" >&2 for i in {1..5}; do ncks --trd -HC ${F[$i]}.nc -v ${F[$i]} -d time,$t | sed $d | awk -F[= ] -vO=${O[$i]} '{ printf "%7s %7s %7.3fn", $4, $6, $8/10+O }' > .f$i done paste .f1 .f2 .f3 .f4 .f5 | awk '{ printf "%s %s %7.3fn", $1, $2, $3-($6-$9)+$12+$15 }' > .geo$t done } annualize() { for y in {0..40}; do args=`for m in {0..11}; do printf ".geo%03d "…

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Hydrothermal vent [image credit: USGS]


The author argues: “In summary, evidence substantiates that a well-defined, persistent and non-moving ocean warm trend originating off the East Coast of the United States is the result of super-heated and methane enriched fluids emitted from numerous seafloor hydrothermal vents/hot springs. This has far-reaching implications concerning the root cause of current worldwide ocean warming.”
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A well-defined ocean warming trend originating off the United States East Coast is likely from super-heated and methane-enriched fluids emitted from numerous seafloor hydrothermal vents/hot springs, says James Kamis at Climate Change Dispatch.

Supporting evidence:

This trend has shown up on shallow Sea Surface (SST) maps since their advent in 1997 and has likely been present for thousands of years.

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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.

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Credit: ukcampsite.co.uk


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.

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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.

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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.

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Credit: energy.gov


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.

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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.

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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

Abstract
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
before.

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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.

fig1

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.

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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!

venustemp1

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