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Geothermal Power Technology

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: Geothermal Technology

Unread postby Graeme » Thu 02 Jul 2015, 18:59:58

Geothermal pitched as Alberta's next big energy source

Standard thinking for decades has been that geothermal technology is too expensive and inefficient to be a significant source of energy.

But a growing number of experts say the time may be right for geothermal to assume a higher profile, especially in oil-rich Alberta.

The economics of renewable energy projects are improving as governments begin to introduce carbon taxes and other fees on large carbon-emitting facilities, such as coal power plants.

Geothermal power plants turn hot water into electricity. Companies drill underground for water or steam similar to the process of drilling for oil. The heat is brought to the surface and used to spin turbines. The water is then returned underground.

"I think Alberta is perfectly situated to make the technology work," said Todd Hirsch, chief economist with ATB Financial. "All the geothermal energy experts say it is all wrong for Alberta. You have to go down so deep to get any heat. Well actually, we have experience drilling through four miles [6.4 km] worth of rock to get at other things that are valuable."


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Re: Geothermal Technology

Unread postby Graeme » Sun 05 Jul 2015, 18:18:58

President Instructs Ministers to Prioritize Geothermal Power

President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo on Sunday (5/7) instructed his economic ministers to prioritize the development of environmentally friendly power generation. The President had pointed to Indonesia’s 28,000-MW geothermal-based power potentials, which according to reports, may account for 40 percent of the world’s potential geothermal resources.

The ministers involved include Coordinating Marine Affairs Minister Indroyono Soesilo, State Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno as well as Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said.

The president’s instruction was shared during a speech to mark the dedication of the fifth unit of a geothermal power plant (PLTP) in Kamojang, West Java, on Sunday (5 Jul 2015). The new unit at Kamojang geothermal plant will provide 35 MW power capacity, adding to the existing combined capacity of 260 MW that is produced by the plant’s four other units. The four units are already in operation. Two state-owned power firms namely PT PLN and PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy operate the power plants.

“On this particular day, today, I instruct the Menko (Coordinating Minister), the BUMN (State Enterprises) minister and the ESDM (Energy and Mineral Resources) minister to ensure that in the future, environmentally friendly power plants will be given higher priority. This is because we have potentials,” Jokowi said in his speech.


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Geothermal Empire

Unread postby StarvingLion » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 03:19:33

This date, Feb 02 2016, signifying the collapse of the Shale Gas Ponzi will live in infamy as the beginning of the end of the American Neoliberal Banking System.

It is the final nail in the coffin of the decrepit Western Academic System. Its foundation, the Axiomatic System, is degenerate. It is a strait-jacket that prevents the only possible successor to fossil fuels, that being...

THE GEOTHERMAL EMPIRE

To successfully realize the earth's geothermal potential, a massive further development of Mathematics must ensue from the upcoming Liquid Fuels Calamity to implement the required Scientific Computing resources to accurately map the Geothermal Resource that will enable The Synthetic Clean Fuel Revolution.

Further posts to follow.
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby diemos » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 09:42:36

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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby shortonoil » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 11:12:32

Have to pretty much agree! By our calculations the ERoEI of geothermal power is now at least as good as petroleum; which is now 8.7 :1.

http://www.thehillsgroup.org/
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby efarmer » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 11:38:21

It is of course the heat source that worked with geologic pressure to make the petroleum and gas deposits in the first place.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Geysers
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 12:23:15

"By our calculations the ERoEI of geothermal power is now at least as good as petroleum; which is now 8.7 :1." Unfortunately there is no EROEI of "geothermal" just as there is no EROEI of "oil wells". But one can estimate the EROEI of specific projects. The single and very significant problem wiith expecting geothermal to be of any meaningful help is how very rare are the sites where it has been proven to be economical. Iceland has great geothermal potential but that doesn't help anyone trying to heat their apartment in NYC or cool their home in Florida. Of course there some very hot water available from 16,000'+ wells in S La. In the late 70's the feds and the oil patch spent a rodiculous amount of capex proving the region had zero economically geothermal potential.

But I once saw an application that MIGHT have huge potential in the US IF fossil fuels were expensive enough: low trmp geothermal. Instead of sucking the heat out of boiling water it was captured from near surface waters (a few hundred feet down) that was less then 100F. Essentially a water sourced heat pump. The most logical application would be small scale commercial.
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby hvacman » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 12:30:49

It is of course the heat source that worked with geologic pressure to make the petroleum and gas deposits in the first place.


Most chemical energy in fossil fuels does not derive from the geothermal heat and geo-pressure energy that cooked the source hydrocarbon material into the more complex hydrocarbon chains we call oil. Most embodied fossil fuel energy derives from the original earth-surface-based photosynthetic processes of the original organisms that turned CO2 and H20 to hydrocarbon molecules to be used by those organisms for their own fuel and/or organic structures. Fossil fuels are ancient sunshine, not ancient nuclear fission.
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby hvacman » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 14:01:38

But I once saw an application that MIGHT have huge potential in the US IF fossil fuels were expensive enough: low trmp geothermal. Instead of sucking the heat out of boiling water it was captured from near surface waters (a few hundred feet down) that was less then 100F. Essentially a water sourced heat pump. The most logical application would be small scale commercial.


This has potential, but I should clarify that while ground source heat pump heat is extracted from the ground, this is not the same as "geothermal" energy. Geothermal comes from heat derived from the natural nuclear fission in the earth's core and is feasible and accessible only where the earth's crust is thin. Near-surface "geothermal" ground and water source heat pumps derive almost all of their source heat from the earth's surface, which is solar heated. For the first few hundred feet of ground, the average annual ground temperature is almost entirely influenced by the average annual air temperature at the surface and has little connection to the core heating process. The massive thermal inertia of the near-surface ground moderates seasonal temperature fluctuations. Hang out in any cave 30 feet into the ground - constant temperature year-round.

And its a good thing the near-surface ground isn't influenced much by the geothermal heat, or we couldn't effectively apply ground source heat pumps in year-round applications, which is the whole idea. In a year-round application, we use the extract the "heat" from the ground to heat the building in the winter. Extracting that heat cools the ground. We then use that "cool" from the ground in the summer to provide ultra-efficient air conditioning. The perfectly-engineered ground-source heat pump system finds a balance between heating and cooling loads to keep the ground year-round average temperature.

It is possible to extract too much heat out of a patch of ground and freeze it up solid. This is a big problem with poorly-engineered ground source heat pump systems that have too few bores, spaced too close together, and/or too much annual heating load and not enough cooling load. The ground adjacent to the bores do not re-warm adequately in the summer to make up for the heat extracted in the winter and becomes colder and colder year by year until it is so cold that the heat pump's refrigeration system can't extract enough useful heat. Ground conductivity is also critical for the heat transfer process - each strata has its own thermal properties and a borefield may pass through several formations. Also, the bentonite we have to use to backfill the bore around the pipe has conductivity factors to consider. It sometimes is just too much earth-and-drilling science for a lowly hvac engineer. We have to call on a geologist-god to help us figure it out:)
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 14:52:44

Before we go any further, let us make sure we are all on the same page. (hvacman, I know that you know, but you are the exception.)

The classic definition of "Geothermal" is using natural sources of steam from volcanic vents to turn steam turbines in power plants, or perhaps to use hot water taken from the ground to directly heat a structure. There are relatively few sites where such power plants and heating systems are either possible or practical, and they are all in areas where if you choose to live, you are knowingly and literally living on the edge of a volcano. Still, the word "Geothermal" has a green cachet and people often point to Iceland as an example of environmental sensitivity, ignoring the fact that when given a choice, most citizens of Iceland would rather burn coal for power than live in an active volcanic zone.

Many, many real estate salespeople abuse the term "Geothermal" by applying it to a ground source heat pump and "Hydronic" in-floor heating, where heat pumped out of the ground is used to warm people's toes. It is the most efficient form of electric heat, and very comfortable - but the most accurate way to describe such warm water residential heating is by use of the term "Hydronic" and then by specifying the heat source - where the ground, ground water, the air, active solar heated water, and passive solar masonry masses are all sources of heat for the heat pump to use.

Some truly clueless salespeople even refer to electric resistance in-floor heat as "Geothermal". In floor "Radiant" heat can be either electric resistance or Hydronic, and old-fashioned steam radiators are another form (and a fairly dangerous form) of radiant heat. But the complete description of a system where warm water circulates in the floor is "Hydronic" and also names the source of heat.
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby sunweb » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 15:37:53

all the equipment will come from what sources?
What tools and toys will this facilitate?
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby Shaved Monkey » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 16:37:22

This article on geo thermal appeared in the Australian papers 9 years ago with great predictions of future energy being geothermal.
April 12, 2007
Scientists get hot rocks off over green nuclear power
PEOPLE could be using "green nuclear" energy in their homes within three years as entrepreneurs rush to produce zero-emissions electricity.

Geodynamics Ltd told the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday it had sped up plans to harness the heat generated by natural nuclear activity deep beneath the central Australian desert.

The company plans to pipe high-pressure hot water from the granite bedrock four kilometres beneath the Queensland-South Australia border, where the slow decay of potassium, thorium and uranium generates temperatures as high as 300 degrees.

"The granite is hot because of the natural nuclear activity in there - it's green nuclear," said the company's chief executive, Adrian Williams.

Dr Williams expects the company to send electricity to the national power grid by 2010 and later directly to western Sydney. By 2015, it could produce as much electricity as the Snowy Mountains hydro scheme.

Some scientists say hot-rocks technology could soon deliver huge volumes of economically viable power, thanks to the continent having the hottest and most geologically favourable granite deposits on earth.

"There's enough energy to run the country for thousands of years," said Prame Chopra, a scientist who sits on the Geodynamics board.


http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/ ... 83212.html

The greatest impediment to the renewable energy industry is that the nation's electricity is among the cheapest in the world, thanks to huge deposits of high-grade coal.

Coal is still cheap now geo thermal still cant compete without a price on carbon.
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 17:29:26

I would disagree with your characterization of fossil fuels as "cheap". Yes, the equipment outlay is cheap - but you must pay for fuel forever more.

There is nothing actually wrong with the idea of true Geothermal heat - aside from the initial equipment cost and the ongoing maintenance of such equipment, it is free - or at least, there is no "fuel" cost.

I would love to live in Hawaii - but I would not live on the Big Island, an active volcano zone. But if you are the type of person who would gamble with the lives of your family and yourself - as long as you are there, you might as well use the volcanic heat, if you have the option.

As for ME, the "fuel" cost of solar heat is also zero, aside from the initial outlay and the ongoing maintenance, and I would rather pay for that - and not live next to an active volcano.
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby ralfy » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 20:58:53

The catch is that the global economy needs higher energy returns.
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 21:34:28

ralfy wrote:The catch is that the global economy needs higher energy returns.


I understand the concentrated nature of FF's. But most available and usable Geothermal sources are already developed, in the same way that most usable Hydropower is already developed. Solar power really has no upper limit in generating capacity, the primary limitation to solar is the day/night cycle and the need to store energy for use after dark.
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby thylacine » Tue 02 Feb 2016, 23:43:06

http://www.ga.gov.au/ausgeonews/ausgeonews201306/geothermal.jsp

Not sure about a geothermal empire, at least not in Australia any time soon. It all seems to have gone a bit quiet over the last few years. The above linked article sums it up with "Simple in concept - complex in application". The reasons are varied: little investor appetite for high risk, long lead time investments, a right-leaning government who scrapped moves to a carbon tax and the technical difficulties encountered in setting up and maintaining viable power generation from hot rocks.
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby Plantagenet » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 01:21:18

Today's geothermal industry is roughly where the oil industry was in the 19th century. Oil wells were originally drilled where there were oil seeps, on the supposition that there must be more oil down there somewhere.

Geothermal today works the same way---most geothermal drilling today is done where there are hot springs and geysers, on the supposition that there must be steam down there somewhere.

Eventually the geothermal industry will figure out a way to locate subsurface geothermal fields that don't leak out to surface hot springs. Chances are there are huge geothermal resources at depth at most active volcanoes, but nobody knows how deep they are or where to drill right now.

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Sure it must be hot down there, but where do we drill?
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby Shaved Monkey » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 06:46:59

No problem knowing where to drill its been drilled for over a 100 years
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In addition, the basin has provided water via a 1.2 km (0.75 mi) deep bore for a geothermal power station at Birdsville.
The heated water is 98 °C (208 °F) and provides 25% of the town's needs.
Ergon Energy is expanding the 80 kW plant to completely meet Birdsville's electricity requirements.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Artesian_Basin
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 08:04:26

Here's the first problem with that Aussie plan: even if it were possible to extract a meaningful amount of heat from that granite rock there virtually no heat recharge capability. There is not a giant nuclear reactor down there pumping out heat. That heat took millions of year to develop that heat content via the incredibly slow decay of a very tiny amount of radioactive minerals. IOW the amount of heat CURRENTLY being generated in that granite rock is the same as is being generated from someone’s granite counter top in their kitchen. I doubt anyone would try “geothermal recover” in their kitchen. LOL.

So once the heat is extracted from that down hole portion of the Aussie wells it has to be replaced by the surrounding rock that’s still very hot. I won’t take the time to go over the details about the thermal conductivity of rocks so go research it if interested:

http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/PGSG/T ... rmal01.pdf

Bottom line: the thermal conductivity is so low that it would take hundreds of years to replace even that very small amount of heat extracted. “Dry rock” geothermal energy, as this would be define, has no significant commercial application as far as I've been able to discover.

As far as existing geothermal projects they are “wet rock” systems. And though they may be in the same regions with volcanic activity they are not getting their energy from volcanos but the heat generated from deep magma chambers which are also the source of volcanos. The most significant geothermal in the US is The Geysers in Ca.

http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/PGSG/T ... rmal01.pdf

Long ago the Rockman worked for the company that owned the project back then and was given a tour as well as chatting with the geologist that handled drilling ops. In this case the proximity to the magma chamber does allow a relatively rapid recharge of the heat extracted. But even with that heat replacement they eventually lacked a critical component: water. Here’s a short bit from their web site:

“Sustainable power generation at The Geysers is possible today because of two large-scale wastewater injection projects from Lake County and the City of Santa Rosa. Together, these projects provide approximately 20 million gallons of reclaimed water per day for injection into The Geysers reservoir. The vast amount of heat in reservoir rocks efficiently converts the water into steam and supplements the production of original reservoir steam to Geysers power plants. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, vastly more steam was produced from The Geysers reservoir than was replaced by the injection of power plant steam condensate. By 1989, accelerated development had caused severe steam pressure decreases in the reservoir, resulting in lower steam production rates. This decline threatened the future sustainability of Geysers power generation.

To sustain reservoir pressure and steam production, The Geysers needed a large, reliable supply of water that could be used to augment injection. In 1990 a collaborative effort between Geysers operators, Lake County and the California Energy Commission identified Lake County wastewater from the southeast regional collection system as the preferred source of water.”

Ironic, eh? Critical to maintaining feasibility they need a lot of water from the rather dry (and getting drier) state of Ca.

As far as finding “hidden” sites of vast concentrated geothermal energy that hunt was over decades ago. But there was a source of very hot (300F+) water known for many decades: it’s called S. La below 15,000'. And there was no lack of such heat: trillions of bbls of very hot salt water. And thousands of existing wells already drilled and being drilled into those reservoirs by 1980. A huge chunk of govt money was directed into such projects back then but failed to develop economic projects. The effort even had a boost from recovering some NG from the produced hot water but it didn’t help enough. And when energy prices spiked again less then 10 years ago the idea resurfaced. From 2009:

http://www.houmatoday.com/article/20091 ... /911149941

Noticed that a portion of the monies being invested 6 years ago came from the govt:

“Geothermal energy emerging as another alternative - A process that relies on heated, pressurized water to create significant amounts of energy from either natural or manufactured sources continues to gain momentum in south Louisiana. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $5 million in federal stimulus money Monday to Louisiana Geothermal, an up-and-coming company that boasts it will be able to produce enough energy within the next two years to power all of Cameron Parish. In fact, research suggests there’s enough of the alternative-energy source there to last more than 130 years.

In this case, geopressured energy, one of a group of potential power sources classified under the geothermal umbrella, is derived from hot, pressurized waters trapped deep in the earth’s sedimentary formations. The water, heated by the earth’s natural processes, can be used to generate electrical power. Scientific research, some of it sponsored by the federal government, suggests that the area around Turtle Bayou Gas Field in Terrebonne Parish could potentially hold similar promise as a geothermal energy source. In Cameron Parish, locals have known that a geopressured-geothermal system existed in Sweet Lake since the 1980s, but only recently have investments started to surface to support what’s being called the Sweet Lake Geopressured-Geothermal Project.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, is among the lawmakers pushing the issue in Washington for the Bayou State. “Louisiana may be sitting atop a mother lode of clean, renewable energy if we can successfully harness the earth’s natural heat through geothermal energy,” Landrieu said.”

And how did that company Louisiana Geothermal do? The last post on their Facebook page was Feb 2010:

https://www.facebook.com/Louisiana-Geot ... e_internal

I tried their website but it appears to no longer exists. Your tax $’s at work. LOL. Maybe when energy prices triple we’ll see a resurgence of geothermal promises from other companies looking for govt grants. In the meantime I think we can table the geothermal enthusiasm IMHO.
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Re: Geothermal Empire

Unread postby Tanada » Wed 03 Feb 2016, 10:18:44

IMO part of the problem is people insist on using plain distilled water as their working fluid on these systems. Way back in 1982 I remember reading about a off the grid system running in south Texas. The owner had built a circulating system of pipes suspended about a foot above the bottom of his largest cattle watering pond. The water was a pretty constant temperature around 70 degrees even in the spring and fall because of the local climate. However he didn't use water as his exchange medium, he used Butane. The pressurized liquid would flow out through underground pipes to the pond, pick up heat, be allowed to vaporize in a fluid separator and spin a turbine to generate electricity. The vapor was then cooled by a cold water bath and compressed back into a cold liquid state for reuse. From time to time I have wondered if this guy was the inventor of the ground source heat pumps that seem to have sprung up all over Texas, but I was never able to confirm it.

For those geopressure gas zones in Louisiana it seems like a system loosely based on this would be possible, you need a working fluid that boils easily but can also be cooled and condensed easily as well. Butane seems like a possibility, or a mixture of water and ammonia, or some commercial refrigerant. I think because of the high cost of installation the people who have tried to develop the technology have aimed very high on there 'bang for the buck' instead of just taking the small step of harvesting something for the effort. There is also the big issue that disposing of the brine water that is produced is a high cost in Louisiana or Texas from what ROCKMAN has posted about it. I could be wrong but it seems like the only way to cheaply dispose of the produced brine would be to have a gravity feed injection well into a shallow saline layer very close to the geopressure production well. That way you could produce the deep water, take the methane and heat out of it and then let it go down hole into a much higher layer without expensive pressure pumps. Someone would have to do a lot of cost benefit analysis and have some serious power point conference presentations to convince investors to finance such a system. Sounds like nobody has managed that just yet.
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