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Geothermal Power Technology

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Geothermal Power Technology

Unread postby jeffrey420_gst1 » Mon 14 Jun 2004, 16:51:09

hot dry rock geothermal energy saves the day
Its seems peak oil will be no problem for nations which utilize hot dry rock geothermal energy (hdr). I used to be very afraid about peak oil until I read about hdr. I haven't seen any peak oil site which accounts for the benefits from hdr. (I've spent at least 50 hours researching peak oil.) HDR appears very promising and is near completion in Soultz, France.
Here is a little info about hdr: {uel=http://www.soultz.net/]link[/url]
* One 1 km³ of 200°C hot granite cooled by 20°C...
* ...delivers about 10 MW of electric power...
* ...for a period of 20 years.

Available resource
= 125'000 km² in W.Europe with >200°C at ~5000 m depth (Shell study) link
HDR geothermal energy relies on existing technologies and engineering processes such as drilling and hydraulic fracturing, techniques established by the oil and gas industry. Standard geothermal power stations convert the extracted heat into electricity. link

Hot dry rock resources occur at depths of 5 to 10 miles (8 to 16 kilometers) everywhere beneath the Earth's surface, and at shallower depths in certain areas. Access to these resources involves injecting cold water down one well, circulating it through hot fractured rock, and drawing off the now hot water from another well. This promising technology has been proven feasible, but no commercial applications are in use at this time.

Put this information in your pipe and smoke it! Tell me what you come up with.
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Unread postby Pops » Mon 14 Jun 2004, 18:05:52

The old peace pipe says that there are lots of alternatives, some better than others depending on your region: {click here for slides}
The smoke tells me that until something is actually working it’s hard to tell what the real world return is. Now it’s saying somebody better get around to building something - before it gets too expensive to build anything. Oh, and you better set aside a little to triple (?) the electric grid capacity worldwide too.
The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves -- in their separate, and individual capacities.
-- Abraham Lincoln, Fragment on Government (July 1, 1854)
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please research before replying

Unread postby jeffrey420 » Mon 14 Jun 2004, 18:29:46

I recommend spending at least 4 or more hours researching hdr technology before replying. Please don't waste our time with replies off the top of your head unless you are up on the latest research in hdr technology. I think everyone here would appreciate some well-researched replies with substance.
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Unread postby Pops » Mon 14 Jun 2004, 18:51:32

No, I think everyone here appreciates the fact that there are alternatives but there are no replacements for oil.
If you spent the time to review my link you would see that the distribution of useable hot rocks is dispersed, just as are areas suitable for PV, wind and other means.
In addition, the grids of most countries are woefully inadequate to “replace” diminishing oil with electricity.

When you start a conversation with “stick that in your pipe”, do you really expect a respectful reply? Or are you just looking for a shouting match? Pull in your horns.
The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves -- in their separate, and individual capacities.
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Unread postby Guest » Mon 14 Jun 2004, 18:54:26

Leaf wrote:Jeff did that study, got the T-shirt few months ago. Was hopeful for about 5 minutes then I used one of my brain cells......Like I said very small scale "maybe"......I will say this one time. WILL NEVER GIVE ENERGY to 6 billion people or even 6 million for that fact.
Please provide references for your conclusion - links to websites or your own detailed analysis using math and science. I doubt anyone here is interested in hearing your opinion. When I hear the word "NEVER" in the context you have used. I usually consider that evidence of a closed mind.
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Unread postby jeffrey420 » Mon 14 Jun 2004, 19:33:08

Pops wrote:No, I think everyone here appreciates the fact that there are alternatives but there are no replacements for oil. If you spent the time to review my link you would see that the distribution of useable hot rocks is dispersed, just as are areas suitable for PV, wind and other means.

Your link is at least three years old and has very little info on hdr technology. It seems to be mostly speculation on hdr.
When you start a conversation with “stick that in your pipe”, do you really expect a respectful reply? Or are you just looking for a shouting match?Pull in your horns.

I was trying to be funny using the pipe metaphor. I think hdr to significantly changes one's outlook on peak oil. I was thinking, "Put this in your mental pipe and smoke it. Your outlook will change significantly."
I do believe peak oil will be a serious problem, especially in the u.s., where I live.
Gotta go now. I'll post more here later tonight.
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Unread postby JayHMorrison » Mon 14 Jun 2004, 19:56:35

Leaf wrote: giving 6 billion people energy. I read those web site you posted months ago. I was hopeful. And if the world had maybe 200 million people and the grond work was already in place for geothermal I would be more hopeful. The ground work is hardly in place and we have 6+ billion people.


1) When you hear about alternatives, keep in mind that they each provide a portion. No single source has to do everything. For example, Wind has potential to provide up to 40% of the worlds electricity needs.

2) We don't have to provide power to 6 billion people. Most of the planet doesn't have power now. A huge percentage lives on $1 per day or less. I don't think it is anyone's goal to provide power to them.

3) A large portion of the poor world will likely starve to death or die of AIDS. That will certainly help make the numbers more reasonable for this planet. AIDS has the potential to wipe out 25% to 50% of some African / Asian countries due to lousy health and education systems.
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Unread postby Pops » Mon 14 Jun 2004, 20:02:40

Actually Jeffrey, the relevant information regarding distribution of relatively shallow temperature differences comes from the IHFC (not the International Home Furnishing Center :D ) here: [url=http://www.geo.lsa.umich.edu/IHFC/guidelines.htmllink[/url]

Snip: “The IHFC is a Commission of, and operates generally under guidelines set by, the International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior (IASPEI). The International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI) and the International Association of the Physical Sciences of the Ocean (IAPSO) are cosponsors of and participate in the activities of the Committee.”

The borehole temperatures they mapped probably haven’t changed in three years.
My point being, this could be a potential source of local or regional power. My other point, which you haven’t addressed, is the suitability of The Grid to distribute that power in its (the grid’s) current condition.
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Unread postby JayHMorrison » Mon 14 Jun 2004, 20:41:21

Leaf wrote:
Jay Said:
Wind has potential to provide up to 40% of the worlds electricity needs.

I like wind. But 40%....Jay how much is in place now? Like .01% worldwide. I like the word potential. Why not say potential of 90%....yeah and maybe bush will tell you its so.


The main reason wind power will have trouble providing more than 30% to 40% of the worlds electric grid power (if the world decided to fully invest in wind power) is because of the intermitency problems. You cannot count on the wind blowing during peak power periods when it is required.

That is why people do not reasonably expect Wind power to achieve 90%.
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Unread postby Aaron » Mon 14 Jun 2004, 21:08:18

Jeffrey, At 10 MW per, how many of these HDR plants will be needed to supply electricity to meet global demand?
Obviously this won't power transportation directly, so we use hydrogen fuel cells to use HDR electricity in vehicles. How much energy do we lose in this conversion process?
Also how long does it take to build one of these? Does the infrastructure exist to produce these in vast numbers, or do we have to build that first?

Is there sufficient expertise (people) to deploy this solution globally? How much electricity has this method produced to date?
Are there any special considerations for a massive scale deployment? (Like any special materials or processes which it depends on to function?) As you can see, with unproven "exotic" technologies it's more complex than the scientific break though which it's based on.

Many alternatives for hydrocarbons exist, and work well. but are much less energetic than oil & gas. So it's not so much about it working, but how it compares to what we use today.
At around 50:1 (1 unit of energy to recover 50 units of oil energy), it's difficult to imagine any known energy source replacing hydrocarbons. It can obviously replace some, but that's the peak theory. I would speculate that HDR will grow as a source of electricity, but it's no oil.
Oh yes, and I am most interested how wind can supply 40% world electricity...
The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt, but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise... economics is a form of brain damage.

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I could have been more clear in my first post.

Unread postby jeffrey420 » Tue 15 Jun 2004, 01:18:28

I could have been more clear in my first post. I certainly don't believe hdr will replace oil, but I do believe it could be the single most important energy source after oil peaks. Good information on hdr technology has only recently appeared on the web AFAIK. Two years ago I could barely find anything.
Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems people here are not knowledgeable about the latest developments in hdr. I would like to see what other people here say about this technology. I can't do as much with my research on hdr technology as others. (I majored in computer science. others here appear to be studying areas more closely related to energy. I did take ten credits of engineering Physics.)

I agree existing technology will not save us, but our imagination definitely can. ("Imagination is more important than knowledge" -- Einstein.) If one nation can develop the technology to travel to the moon in nine years I think the world can develop solutions to peak oil that will save civilization in most developed nations. If the u.s. relied on "proven" technology we probably would not have made it to the moon.
Here is some more info on hdr technology. If you have more questions don't ask me. I probably don't know. My knowledge of energy is limited.
- There are major hdr projects in Switzerland, Germany, France, Japan, and Australia. France appears furthest in development -link
- According to the charts on the Swiss project at link geothermal energy is by far the most economical.
- The groundwork has been laid for hdr technology. It is obviously scalable.
from link
SOULTZ: WHAT HAS BEEN DONE - IMPORTANT MILESTONES TOP
* Integration of all European HDR research activities at Soultz
* Drilling of 2 wells to 3.6 km, and underground evaluation
* Stimulation and first hydraulic testing
* Successful 4-month circulation test demonstrating the feasibility of the HDR concept at Soultz
* Industry participation through the EEIG Heat Mining
* Deepening of a well to 5 km, to a temperature of 200°C
* Successful stimulation experiment at 4.4 - 5 km depth
----------------------------------
from link
One has to keep in mind that 99% of the earth mass is hotter than 1'000°C and less than 1% is cooler than 100°C.
The terminology "Hot Dry Rock" has evolved since formation fluids have been frequently found from deep boreholes drilled in crystalline rocks. Indeed, between fully hydrothermal reservoirs and totally impermeable hot rocks, there is a complete series of low- to medium-permeability rocks which cannot be exploited for geothermal energy production without specific engineering enhancements.

Names like Hot Wet Rock (HWR) or Engineered Geothermal Systems can be found in the literature. The Swiss project is called Deep Heat Mining (DHM) and recently the US Department of Energy renamed its new Hot Dry Rock programme into Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).
Building a Deep Heat Mining plant will not require the development of essentially new technologies. For decades, electric power has been generated economically from geothermal fields all over the world. The deep drilling technology (5-6 km) into hot and hard rock is available, representing a combination of experiences gained in the oil and mining industries, with specific high temperature tools and knowhow from geothermal industry.

----------------------------------
from link
HDR geothermal energy relies on existing technologies and engineering processes, and is the only known source of renewable energy with a capacity to carry large base loads.
On the basis of renewable energy incentives established in Australia, HDR geothermal energy is considered to be competitive with wind and hydro power generated energy. The cost of electricity generated by HDR geothermal power plants is independent of future fossil fuel costs. HDR geothermal energy has the added advantage of being available 24 hours a day and has the capacity to "load follow".

Fossil Fuel Alternatives: The expansion of the nuclear power industry appears to be socially unacceptable. Solar and wind power cannot replace fossil fuels, just augment them and they are limited in scope, intermittent, and unreliable. Large-scale hydroelectric projects are now rejected on environmental grounds. Hot dry rock has the potential, worldwide, to significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Hdr looks like a magic bullet to me.
Mr. Bonaparte, where in the heck do you get <1% from. I think you pulled this number out of your *ss.
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THE Geothermal Thread (merged)

Unread postby smiley » Fri 18 Jun 2004, 09:23:47

Since I don’t want to post only negative things here I like to present an idea.
Temperature increases with depth. I’ve once visited a mine and I can guarantee that it’s very hot down there. Now heat is energy so we should be able to do something with that. In fact we already use geothermal energy, but it is only in places where the heat comes to the surface.
I’ve been looking on the internet. The typical temperatures inside a well are 40 and 200 C (100 and 400 F.) link

At these temperatures water has considerable heat content.
So my very simple question is: why don’t we use the old decommissioned land wells as geothermal energy sources? The infrastructure is already there. We pump cold water in and hot water out. The difference in heat can be used for electricity generation or simply for heating purposes.
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Unread postby tkn317071 » Wed 23 Jun 2004, 16:03:38

It sounds like a good idea...Would the water cool the mine at all?
I'm assuming that your suggestion to use this geothermal energy to generate electricity is by boiling water/driving turbines...is it still possible to generate electricity with only a temperature difference (geothermal less than 100c?) Thanks.
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Unread postby smiley » Thu 24 Jun 2004, 05:28:43

A refrigerator is a heat pump. It uses electricity to pump heat from inside (cold) to outside (hot). A heat engine (or carnot engine) is a refrigerator in reverse. It uses the flow of heat from a hot environment to a cold environment to generate power.
One example is the steam engine. It needs a temperature of at least 100 degrees (at atmospheric pressure) to get the water boiling. However If you take instead of water another liquid with a lower boiling point you can operate the engine at lower temperatures.

There are already a number of engines available which work on these kinds of principles: link
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PART 3! "The end of"- the end of the world.

Unread postby Yamaha_R6 » Sat 24 Jul 2004, 19:45:59

The cruel hoax of the end of the world and the lies about it,
By: Robert E.
Money is not a problem in transitioning to another energy source. As Smalley said himself in this video, over 3 trillion dollars are spent each year on energy. They question is where do we get this energy.
Link to video: link
First lets mark off where we cannot get more energy.
1. Hydropower in theory could be doubled, however this would result in the destruction of most of the remaining rivers and damage natural habitat.
2. Natural gas, coal, and oil are in decline, no more to be found.

Places where we can find more energy exist in the sun, wind and in the earth.
1. Solar and wind powers are very promising. However I think geothermal power could be a more realistic source of power for a major economy where solar and wind are more suited for home and private “off the grid” use.
The big island of Hawaii already gets 30% of their energy from it. The VERY LARGE misconception about it is, you don’t need a volcano or geyser to use it.
It can be used ANYWHERE. Typically about 5 miles down, the temperature ranges from 150-600 degrees F. In some places a lot hotter, in others cooler. The US has marked 1900 sites that are above 200 degrees F. at only 6 kilometers down.

There is a project underway to make electricity from this heat at only 5 cents a kilowatt/hour. In Hot spots it is already that cheap. But at non-hot spots it’s more like 30 cents a kilowatt/hour. One of the good things about geothermal plants, they are operational 90 % of the time, which is more then any other power plant, they are very clean, and can make a lot of energy on a massive scale. We already have some 140 operational plants In the US alone. 400 overall in the world.
Other countries in the south pacific already gain a large portion of their energy from these geothermal plants.

You can make as many of these plants as you want, they take up very little land, (less then coal or gas power plants) and once they are built, operating costs are relatively cheap and they need no fuel. The earth constantly supplies this "free heat". Heat directly translates into ENERGY. The farther you drill down, the hotter it gets. The best part is, gravity is on our side.
THE BEST PART: Geothermal plants can be constructed as quickly as 6 months to 2 years.
Here are my sources that you may want to check on:
link
link

This is one point that I don’t get. You say alternative energies don’t work because their EROEI is to low.
From what I understand the EROEI of oil is 1 to 10. It used to be 1 to 100, but that was way back when, its about 1 to 10 now and that’s what counts. So stop posting what the EROEI for oil USED to be, because that doesn’t matter.

If wind only has an EROEI of 1 to 5, you all say its only half as efficient and thus the higher price of energy would bankrupt us.
But if we only used 1/2 as much energy, (which wouldn't be hard to achieve), Then we are still spending the same amount of money on energy as before when we used oil.
Another problem I have is that you are predicting the situation as far ahead as 20 YEARS from now. The EROEI of alternative energies will be much higher, and the energy consuming devices will me much more efficient. This is a double whammy!
Did we even HAVE solar panels 20 years ago? At the current rate of improvement, how efficient will solar and wind be 20 years from now. This is where you extrapolate using current data.

At the current rate, how much more efficient will appliances be 20 years from now? This is where you extrapolate using current data.
If solar is twice as efficient in 20 years, and appliances use half the energy, that is 4 TIMES as efficient. Thus, making the 1 to 5 EROEI raise to the equivalent of 1 to 20 EROEI. That is as economical as oil.
Think, how much better are refrigerators now then 20 years ago... 3-4 times as efficient. How efficient was solar back then? 1/3 as it is now?

To my conclusion: With solar and wind ever increasing in efficiency, and the appliances in our home using less and less energy, combined with moderate conservation to stop the “wasting” of energy, energy can be made available cheaply to everyone. With an increased number of nuclear reactors, and development of the worlds UNLIMITED Geothermal energy potential, energy can be supplied cheaply in massive amounts to power industry. With geothermal power, the more energy you need the more holes into the earth you drill. The world can never reach a “peak” geothermal energy. There is no limit to how much you can take. All that can happen is that it becomes cheaper and cheaper as we develop its limitless potential.

So much electricity could be generated from geothermal plants; we could convert it to oil or hydrogen to power automobiles and trucks. In the future, public transportation will become increasingly popular as energy becomes more expensive. Examples: Germany, Japan.
And even during the age of all this energy, oil, coal, and natural gas will still be around. 20 years from now 60 billion barrels per year may very well still be pumping.

So you see everyone, the world is not coming to an end.
In fact, the production and invest into all of these resources. (TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS) Is going to STAY in the United States. Would you rather buy energy for a 1.50 from Arabs or for 2.50 from fellow Americans? When we buy U.S. made energy from U.S coal, U.S. nuclear and US geothermal power plants, we keep our money in our economy. When we invest in U.S. made solar panels, and U.S made windmills, we are creating a powerful industry that will supply jobs and HELP our economy.
More money will be spent on newer more efficient cars and products, sort of a consumerism driven by the desire to consume less. (Ironic huh).
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Unread postby Yamaha_R6 » Sat 24 Jul 2004, 19:55:10

hmmm i should have re-read that before I posted it but, oh well. I dont think I left an impression of what an incredible energy source geothermal is. We could power everything and more on it, as it has no limit to usage. That includes cars and trucks, just use the heat or electricity to produce hydrogen or oil. When you have unlimited heat and electricity... why not?

Geothermal is the worlds #1 renewable resource. The reason we dont use a lot more of it is because other energies like coal and oil are just so cheap that it is cost prohibitave. When gas prices go up, and when further investment goes into geothermal technology, it could very quickly become a dominate power source.
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Unread postby Yamaha_R6 » Sat 24 Jul 2004, 19:56:23

I already mentioned these geothermal plants can be build in as little as 6 months to 2 years right???? Isnt that cool!
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Unread postby Andy » Sat 24 Jul 2004, 20:37:27

Geothermal is in fact an incredible resource and definitely one of the long term energy production options. The problem with geothermal however in the case of hot dry rock technology is the energy needed to drill to get to rock of reasonable temperature. Hot dry rock and magma represent the bulk of the world geothermal resource.

The rate of extraction of geothermal energy is also a limitation. If worked too hard, a geothermal well can temporarily fail to supply the required heat. Hence, the potential is not unlimited but like all the renewables, limited in its extraction rate. It must be pursued vigorously however as it is among the better long term options with no dealbreaking pollution issues and no long term waste, security and environmental problems like nuclear fission.
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Unread postby Yamaha_R6 » Sat 24 Jul 2004, 21:14:59

ok agreed you might have a limit to how much energy you can get from one site, but couldn't you just drill on other places, until you had enough plants to supply the energy you need.

Also, could you re-use the drills to keep making more and more. I imagine they could make a drill that could be used more then once.
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Unread postby Whitecrab » Sat 24 Jul 2004, 21:25:04

Anywhere Geothermal does sound great. Not used to any big degree yet, but it seems nice. It would be great if we could have some estimates on how hard it would be to try and use it at the scales needed for peak oil.
As for the efficiency gains, I'm not sure we'll be using less energy. There will be more people in the world, and here in the first world if it's still business as usual for 2 decades we'll probably have more stuff. Yes, fridges became more efficient with time, but there was a time there were no fridges. 20 years down the road we may all have a few new appliances in the kitchen or home theater, who knows?
Gives you hope, but not complacency. Especially if people aren't aware there will be a need to conserve.


Oh, and electricity obviously doesn't solve all our oil needs. But it does give us plenty more energy to play around with. :)
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