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August 01, 2006



Sounds great! But why aren't there many people doing it?


So now we know what happened to Krypton.

Seriously, neat idea. Fun to think about. I'd be currious to see more about how large of a facility (i.e. how many wells over how many sq miles would be needed) to provide a metropolitan area of 1,000,000 people with power.


Reading the article answers my previous question....


I can't wait for the enviro-alarmists to get hold of this. "What happens when we use all the heat up? No more volcanism? What will be the consequences for humanity when there are no more earthquakes, no more sea floor spreading, no more massive volcanic eruptions!?"


What is worse, Nat, is that this energy is the result of "...the decay of .....isotopes..." In other words, Nuclear Power. Oh the Horror!

Robert McLeod

No more magnetic field protecting us from the solar wind...

More seriously, I don't want to be a wet blanket but there are obvious problems that may not be resolvable. A drawback with geothermal systems is that you can deplete them. Rock is a pretty good insulator and diffusion over such large distances is extremely slow. So while the amount of heat contained in the Earth's core is massive if you can only pipette it out in small quantities it's not too useful. I quote Tester, "If you go higher than the confinement stress, you will reopen the small fractures," [in the crystalline rock]. There's hardly any guareentee that this will be a cost effective investment. It's the old mistake of anlyzing the energy of a system without taking into account the entropy.


I'm curious about this company that added a comment at the end of the article (BTT,Geothermal PDF). It claims to be doing geothermal extraction without all the techno-wizardry and fracture stimulation. It claims to be more economic, and available today. In fact, it has 450 installations in Europe. It also claims to be sustainable at 50 meter spacing. Apparently, a 7,000-meter well will give you a 2 MW power station.

Back of the envelope scratching: 3000 MW needed for a million people. That means 1500 wells. At 50 meter spacing, that would be approximately 2 km square. A 7000-meter well might be pretty expensive, but this MIT professor seems to imply that he has a cheaper drilling method up his sleeve (MIT Technology Review)

Jesse Jenkins

Sounds like Hot Dry Rock (HDR) technology... or am I missing something (and this is something new). Seems like there are still quite a lot of technical issues to resolve with HDR before it can be succesful, but it does have a ton of potential and deserves research.

Energy Sense

Countering the trend to oversimplify:
1) Geothermal is worthwhile and green, but it is not renewable, unless an extended timeframe of centuries is used. Heat extraction rates exceed heat recharge rates making project life finite. But it can be economical and useful.
2) Because of high costs and project lifetimes around 15-30 years, economics must factor into every potential installation. Many prospective sites will not be worthwhile.
3) The deeper wells are drilled and the more they must be fractured, the greater the expense and worse the economics.
4) A major move into geothermal must be considered in light of dramatically improving solar costs and wind power costs.


Yep, wind and solar is least expensive and has no enviro drawbacks, like Mars experienced from a heat depleted core. The atmosphere blew away into space without the protective magnetic fields our planet has.

Geothermal needs way too much water. Completely impracticle.


wind and solar is least expensive and has no enviro drawbacks

Maybe that is not the case.

Richard J. Lee

If we were to drill in a hot area, say the Cascade Mountain Range, it is not likely there would be any significant cooling from heat extraction. It will be extremely hot there for at least a thousand years, no matter how much heat we use.



Why do you think hot dry rock heat extraction is not a good idea? Why not first subsidize oil companies to do the research and give them a guaranteed share of profits? They already know how to drill deep holes,and this would give their people a challange to do something that actually helps the environment. It probably would not be too difficult to drill deeper to extract heat from non granite areas. If the economics are even close to what this website says, we should jump on it! http://hotrock.anu.edu.au/economics.htm

Antony Levendi

the reason why this is not being used at the moment is because of the vast profits oil tycoons are making, exploiting all of the natural resources of the world and heating up the planet. Only until we see vast climate change and oil reserve depletion will these energy companies even consider other options.

sildenafil citrate

I mean what is the objective of this post, merely informative or something more ?

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