Tuesday, January 23, 2007

MIT Study: Geothermal Could Provide 10% of Energy by 2050

Yesterday, MIT released a study that said that America could derive 10% of its energy production from geothermal sources by 2050 -- and it's generated quite a debate over energy issues at Slashdot.

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Doug said...

Thankfully at least one poster there realised that geothermal is not a renewable energy source. Over time the rock cools off as you extract the energy from it. Sure the earth's core will reheat it but over a much longer time scale.

Anonymous said...

Toxic emissions from geothermal plants are one issue. Another is the release of radioactive gases. Some of the rock formations at depth contain quite a bit of uranium (granite, for example). The radon and daughter products get entrained in the heated water/steam and are brought to the surface and released. I seem to recall reading the one geothermal plant in California could not be licensed to operate if it were regulated by the NRC, because of the concentration of radioactive gases released from the steam. But, since that is "natural radioactivity", I guess that makes it "different" and somehow okay.

don kosloff said...

Hydrogen sulfide gas is also released. I grew up in Lake County, California near one of the now-active geothermal fields. It was the one that started losing its steam pressure long before the anticipated full development potential was realized. But nowadays the hydrogen sulfide gases can be smelled about 20 miles from the plants, depending on which way the wind is blowing.