What is needed to unlock the potential of geothermal power generation


“Geothermal is ready for prime time,” said Tim Latimer, the company’s founder and CEO. EGS start I cook.

The attraction of geothermal is consistency: Although the power output of wind and solar power plants varies with the weather and the time of day, geothermal energy is always on, providing a stable source of electricity.

“It really is the only baseload renewable energy source,” said Jody Robbins, a geothermal engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Nuclear power (carbon-free but non-renewable) can play a similar role, although cost, waste issues, and public perception limit its deployment.

Since the 1970s, modern geothermal power plants have been operating in the United States. These factories usually pump hot water or steam from underground to the surface to move turbines and generate electricity. The water is then pumped back to maintain underground pressure, so the process can continue.

Major geothermal sites share certain characteristics: heat, cracked rocks, and water, all of which are close to each other and only a few miles from the surface. But so far, the most accessible geothermal resources—in the United States, they are mainly concentrated in the west—have been exploited. Although researchers believe there are more potential locations yet to be discovered, it is difficult to figure out where they are. In most parts of the eastern United States and many other places in the world, the underground rocks are not suitable for the growth of traditional plants, or there is no water there.

Some researchers and start-up companies are trying to expand geothermal to new places. Using EGS, they tried to design something underground by pumping fluid into impermeable rocks to force cracks to open. This creates a space where water can move freely and be heated, thereby generating steam for power.This process may trigger an earthquake, because the early projects South Korea with Switzerland Already shown. However, EGS is similar to hydraulic fracturing and is widely used in the United States, and the risk may be controllable in most places, Robins said.

This method can extend geothermal energy to places where there is no groundwater or rock types required by traditional plants.

Nevertheless, it is not easy to obtain these resources. The depth of commercial drilling is usually no more than 7 kilometers (4 miles)-for cost reasons, it is usually even smaller than this-and many places that may benefit from geothermal are not hot enough at that depth to reach 150°C. Generate electricity economically. Reaching a sufficient temperature may mean deeper, which requires new technologies and new technologies that can withstand high temperatures and pressures.

Provided by the Office of Geothermal Technology, Department of Energy

Fervo is studying some of the details in its own project, including a Announced earlier this year Install geothermal capacity near Google’s data center in Nevada.It also recently participated in a DOE project in central Utah called forging (Frontier Observatory of Geothermal Energy Research).

Academic and industry researchers at FORGE are working hard to find best practices for deploying EGS, including drilling and reservoir maintenance. Lauren Boyd, EGS project manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Geothermal Technology, said that the site was chosen because its geology is quite representative of where other EGS plants may be built in the U.S.

With new funding for the Infrastructure Act, the Department of Energy will fund another four demonstration sites. This will broaden the researchers’ understanding of establishing EGS facilities because they will be able to work on different places and different types of rocks. At least one factory will be built in the eastern United States, where geothermal heat is less common.

But Susan Hamm, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Geothermal Technology, said that technical barriers are not all factors hindering the development of geothermal power generation. Because of all the permits involved, the construction of a geothermal power plant can take up to ten years. By 2050, simplifying paperwork can almost cut time in half and double the projected geothermal capacity.


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