OT? Richardson Proposes Expanding Geothermal Power, Grants (AP)

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Post Y2K trend indicator? Or anticipation?

The real question to ask is... Who owns the sun? Or not... for some.

Jus' watchin' the gas prices rise in Silicon Valley, as elsewhere.


Richardson proposes expanding geothermal power, grants BART JANSEN, Associated Press Writer Monday, January 24, 2000


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

(01-24) 10:36 PST WASHINGTON (AP) -- Geothermal energy research in California and other western states will get a $4.8 million boost from the federal government, which is seeking to expand the technology as a clean alternative to oil.

The grants, to be distributed in California, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Idaho and North Dakota, were announced today by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.

They will pay for research to find geothermal sites and improve drilling for the resource.

``It is a clean, reliable and renewable energy resource available in all western states,'' Richardson said.

Geothermal energy is generated from water or steam heated by the earth's core.

The process pollutes less than gasoline or even natural gas typically used to generate electricity. But the costs of finding drill sites and building an electrical plant have hindered geothermal development so far.

``This modest investment by the federal government has the potential to stimulate billions of dollars in investment and tens of thousands of new jobs and in turn make Nevada the Saudi Arabia of geothermal energy,'' said Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic whip from Nevada.

About half the country's 2,800 megawatts of geothermal power is generated in California. One hundred megawatts serve a city of about 200,000 people.

Geothermal energy is available beneath 17 western states, but is only developed in California, Nevada, Utah and Hawaii.

Richardson's goal is to double the number of states with geothermal plants to eight by 2006 and expand production to 20,000 megawatts by 2020, which would represent 10 percent of the electric market in the West.

The grants include:

--$150,380 to Geometrics International of California to study stress in geothermal reservoir at Dixie Valley, Nev. for one year.

--$3.3 million to the University of Utah for a three-year study to evaluate geothermal fields across the United States and learn better how they behave.

--$391,076 to Southern Methodist University in Texas to analyze geological data from Dixie Valley for two years.

--$174,050 to Denis Norton in Idaho for a two-study of granites in hydrothermal systems.

Another $400,000 will be distributed in California for two projects still under negotiation.

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), January 26, 2000


The two California projects are probably those in my County near Medicine lake. Both sites are on federally managed land. The projects are opposed by environmental groups and Steven Segal who has a farm here. The tribes and all other groups support the development. They have received a clean bill of health under NEPA analysis as far as environmental impacts.

Ever wonder why such a clean form of renewable energy is opposed by environmentalists. It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that some of the largests benefactors of so-called environmental grants are the oil companies.

Things that make ya go hmmmmmmm.

-- things that makeu (makeu@go.hmmm), January 26, 2000.

Geothermal power stations are among the most environmentally friendly energy sources available in the world, and it is pleasing to see that USA is now embracing this form of technology. Although USA already generates almost 3000 MW from geothermal sources, the real leaders in this form of energy are Iceland, followed closely by New Zealand.

However, although geothermal energy is less polluting than conventional thermal generation, it is still not as clean as most people believe. The geothermal fluids extracted from the earth are rich in heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, antimony and gold, as well as carrying high amounts of silica and sulpher. Included in the extracted fluids are various insoluable gasses such as hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide which, along with some of the more undesirable elements, must be extracted from the fluid before it can be used for generation. In other words, the waste products can be rather toxic if discharged in large quantities..

Here in NZ we have been experimenting with re-injecting these waste products back into the geothermal field in order to prevent their release back into the environment. In 1991 we commissioned a small geothermal station at Ohaaki in the north Island with an installed capacity of 105 MW. This station used a cooling tower instead of river water for cooling, and the waste geothermal fluids are pumped back into the steam field. However there are a number of draw backs with this station. The station is now producing around 40 MW instead of 105 because the waste products being re-injected have cooled the steam field down and made less steam available. What is available is at a lower temerature and pressure which means less power output. A scondary effect, and one that had not been noticed with our older geothermal fields, is the amount of subsidence that is occurring to land close to where the geothermal fluid is being drawn off. This is noticeable because a Maori village which was on the banks of the Waikato river, and about 10 feet above river level, is now almost about to go under water. Our earliest geothermal station (commissioned in 1955) had not been thought to have this problem, however recent surveys have shown that the land above its steam field has dropped by up to 30 feet.

obviously there is still much to learn about using the earths natural energy and I applaud USA for being proactive in this respect.

-- Malcolm Taylor (taylorm@es.co.nz), January 26, 2000.


I remember driving by the Waikato geo-thermal site in the early 70's. It was impressive, if a bit on the smelly side due to the contents of the steam.

Is this the beginning of the US getting serious about searching for alternative energy sources and means of production? Our national efforts to date have been concentrated on obtaining petroleum at the lowest possible cost, thereby driving our economy.

The article World Oil Production After Year 2000 indicated that in 1995 the US had less than 10 years of proven reserve at the then current rate of use. There is debate over this number, but it does indicate that we -- nationally -- are running a bit on the low side as far as oil reserves, implying an increasing reliance on middle-east oil.

So, it's about time that we got down to looking at alternate energy production methods. It's also about time we looked seriously at conservation of the energy we do produce.

-- rocky (rknolls@no.spam), January 26, 2000.

Go to Costa Rica...they have it down pat. It comes out of an active volcano, Arenal. Taz

-- Taz (Tassi123@aol.com), January 26, 2000.

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