Skip to comments.Geothermal Project in California (backed by Obama DoE) Is Shut Down
Posted on 12/12/2009 1:11:29 PM PST by reaganaut1
The company in charge of a California project to extract vast amounts of renewable energy from deep, hot bedrock has removed its drill rig and informed federal officials that the government project will be abandoned.
The project by the company, AltaRock Energy, was the Obama administrations first major test of geothermal energy as a significant alternative to fossil fuels and the project was being financed with federal Department of Energy money at a site about 100 miles north of San Francisco called the Geysers.
But on Friday, the Energy Department said that AltaRock had given notice this week that it will not be continuing work at the Geysers as part of the agencys geothermal development program.
The projects apparent collapse comes a day after Swiss government officials permanently shut down a similar project in Basel, because of the damaging earthquakes it produced in 2006 and 2007. Taken together, the two setbacks could change the direction of the Obama administrations geothermal program, which had raised hopes that the earths bedrock could be quickly tapped as a clean and almost limitless energy source.
The Energy Department referred other questions about the projects shutdown to AltaRock, a startup company based in Seattle. Reached by telephone, the companys chief operations officer, James T. Turner, confirmed that the rig had been removed but said he had not been informed of the notice that the company had given the government. Two other senior company officials did not respond to requests for comment [...]
Geothermal enthusiasts asserted that drilling miles into hard rock, as required by the technique, could be done quickly and economically with small improvements in existing methods, Professor Schrag said. What weve discovered is that its harder to make those improvements than some people believed, he added.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
You mean the center of the earth is not millions of degrees hot? Al Gore is deeply saddened!
Apply this result to all the other blue sky technologies.
But then we would be killing the Earth with CO2 fumes.
It's known that this process produces eathquakes and Obama's administration okayed the project anyway?
Rather than the taxpayers paying for these boondoggles why not let oil drill for our own? Oh yeah, might save the Auto Industry.
Pray for America’s Freedom
Man oh man, between geothermal getting shut down, ethanol plants shutting down and windpower projects being canceled alternative power appears to be going down the ole terlet.
Geez, will someone start drilling?
This is what happens when liberal children think science fiction is real.
The earthquake thing.
No company is going to expose itself to that kind of liability, whether or not any cheap energy is forthcoming.
Nope - sorry, we can’t. Too many “liberal” congress-critters want to “socialize” the oil industry...
Geothermal Energy in California
photo of Geysers Geothermal Plants
Because of its location on the Pacific’s “ring of fire” and because of tectonic plate conjunctions, California contains the largest amount of geothermal generating capacity in the United States.
In 2007, geothermal energy in our state produced 13,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity. Combined with another 440 GWh of imported geothermal electricity, then geothermal energy produced 4.5 percent of the state’s total system power. A total of 43 operating geothermal power plants with an installed capacity of nearly 1,800 megawatts are in California, about two-thirds of the total United States’ geothermal generation.
The largest concentration of geothermal plants is located north of San Francisco in the Geysers Geothermal Resource Area in Napa and Sonoma Counties. This location has been producing electricity since the 1960s. It uses dry steam; one of only two places in the world for this resource (the other being in Larderello, Italy).
There’s no such thing as a free lunch... or free energy.
*** the two setbacks could change the direction of the Obama administrations geothermal program, which had raised hopes that the earths bedrock could be quickly tapped as a clean and almost limitless energy source. ***
Back during the Jimmy Carter admin there was plans to build a geothermal power plant in New Mexico. Test hole were drilled, estimates of the ammount of steam were made, a turbine/generator was purchased, all was GO!
When done there was not enough steam to roll the turbine! A couple of years later I saw all the equipment for sale in Power Engineering Magazine.
Hmmm, suppose any of that equipment could be put to use drilling for oil? In the US?
And right near San Francisco... If it ever makes the news, it ought to be good for reforming a few SF liberals.
Which I consider myself as one, as well as a oil, gas and nuke enthusiast. However, one must have certain conditions for the development of geothermal resources such as a relatively shallow heat source and controllable water chemistry. It is not the cure all.
The SF location was particularly ironic!
OK, this technology (see link below) is 30 years old and for me in Ohio costs about $300 per year - total heating and cooling. Oh, but Democrats and/or Al Gore don’t get rich from selling this kind of geothermal. I understand.
What you are describing is a form of a heat pump/heat exchange mechanism. This is far too cool to use to generate commercial electricity. What was being targeted by this firm is high temperature material.. Commercial geothermal plants need steam to drive turbines similar to a coal or nuke plant. Picture Yellowstone Park for the heat. These geothermal waters, however, are often very corrosive to metals. They commonly contain dissolved metal concentrations that exceed EPA standards for release to the surface and must be reinjected (with associated corrosion and mineral deposit maintenance problems).
The rig pictured on the article web page is capable of drilling for oil but it is fairly light duty and can't go very deep. It is particularly telling that caprock formations were causing problems. It is likely there were more problems than are revealed in the article.
What happened to that wind turbine? Did the birds and bats finally decide to strike back?
Seismic activity near a geothermal site? Whoda thunk it? /s
That swarm of blue and yellow squares is “the geysers”
Socialism cannot give us “sustainable” anything except perpetual hype and hope, for economist Ludwig von Mises showed in several articles and papers that socialists cannot compute. More correctly, since socialism as an economic system distorts economic information, it cannot know how to economically allocate finite resources. As a result it allocates resources based on political or ideological criteria.
Thus, we see that in a time of record government budget deficits, it is just as important to spend money to maintain the GPS satellite system as it is to spend $54 million on a tourist train in California's wine country, and spending $2.2 million to improve the warehouse owned by the state of Montana's liquor agency.
We can bolster the economy by taking money from families (with a median income of $50,233) and use it to create one federal job (average salary $70+k). When we have to consume the entire earnings of more than one family to create a single job, we are running as fast as we can to national bankruptcy.
We can only keep up this foolishness as long as people are willing to lend us the money to do it. Then our only recourse is to destroy the value of that debt via hyper-inflation so we can avoid becoming insolvent.
If we don't throw these bums out and quick, our ship is going to sink right out from under us. If these bums think that destroying the current system is their path to power so we would allow them to fix it with a new socialist utopia, we are going to have to start measuring our answer in grains, like in 180 grain units.
Please read: Economic Calculation In The Socialist Commonwealth By Ludwig von Mises
Postscript: Why a Socialist Economy is "Impossible" by Joseph T. Salerno
both are found at www.mises.org
Google: socialist calculation debate
If it was cheap or easy, you can bet it would have been done before. That’s a point that’s completely lost on the greenies.
IIRC...the turbine’s governor failed and it “over-revved” during a windstorm, which tore off or damaged the blades.
Yep. Nothing like what I am used to (rated for 20,000 ft.).
Doubtful. And the petroleum and service companies generally know how to drill in rock without snapping bits off.
Precisely. One look at the rig, and maybe they can drill water wells with it in soft sediments, but it does not look very substantial for drilling even well consolidated sedimentary rock.
Workover rigs around here (Williston Basin) are much more substantial.
It looks like whoever tried to do this underengineered the project.
The new, high penetration rate developments I have seen involve using mud motors (which would likely require a lot more pump than they have) and a more substantial drill string as well.
Performance has never been cheap.
I won't speculate on other possibilities, but as far as drilling a hole in rock, the oil industry is the place to go for answers.
bump & a ping
Twenty years or so, my parents bought stock in some geothermal startup, and unloaded at a 10-fold profit.....no huge bucks involved, but they had fun with it.
I hope you were being sarcastic ..??
Whew! I thought for a moment I was going to have to recite a 3rd Grade lecture on humans, breathing, trees, etc. HaHa!
I don’t care who you are — that’s funny.
The fraud involved in this “Green Movement” is beyond all comprehension.
“The Divine One” and his apostles believe there is such a thing as free money. That is enough for me.