Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Geothermal Energy: Hot water to fight hot air.

There have been a couple of very interesting reports on the potential of geothermal energy recently.

These reports have been about the US resource and it's potential development. It is worth noting, however, that China also has a huge geothermal resource, and indeed according to the latest global stats that i have seen (2001) it is still in the lead. If anyone has any reports about developments in this area then please let me know.

The US reports that have received a fair amount of coverage in the blogosphere where produced by NREL (3MB,PDF) and MIT(14MB, PDF). The former focuses on national resource of geothermal energy and the latter focuses on the viability of using these reserves.

NREL state that there aims are:

"to gather and summarize expert opinions about the potential of various geothermal resources for generation of electricity and utilization of heat energy "

This is an interesting document to read for those of you wondering how significant geothermal could be. Wind is the current green-tech 'killer-app', solar pv is rapidly moving in the same direction, towards mainstream prices and extraordinary growth of market share. Could geothermal do the same...read this report for the answers.

Whilst the MIT study explains it's remit thus:

"[we where] assembled in September 2005 to
evaluate the economic feasibility of EGS becoming a major supplier of
primary energy for U.S. base load generation capacity by 2050."

If you notice the term economic in there...perhaps this explains the extra size of the document when compared with the NREL study!
6% of Global Renewable energy investment went into geothermal during 2005. The sector is not, however garnering the same press attention as the new energy technologies. It may be that this old and well developed technology is worth bearing in mind as we move towards a low carbon and more energy secure economy. Higher oil prices, a price on carbon, a premium on base load generation all bode well for geothermal energy.
Overview, A step back: Renewable Energy Outlook 2006

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