The Corpus Callosum

Update on Geothermal Energy

Remember rel="tag">geothermal energy?  It was a
popular topic back in the 1960′s, particularly among those who were
stridently opposed to the massive investments in nuclear power.
 Somehow, though, it was never pursued very aggressively.

Now, there is a massive report published by href=""
rel="tag">MIT, at the behest of the US Dept. of
Energy.  It is a big report, a 14MB PDF download: href="">The
Future of Geothermal Energy.  It is mentioned in an
MIT news release:

panel backs ‘heat mining’ as key U.S. energy source
January 22, 2007

A comprehensive new MIT-led study of the potential for geothermal
energy within the United States has found that mining the huge amounts
of heat that reside as stored thermal energy in the Earth’s hard rock
crust could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the United
States will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with
minimal environmental impact.

An 18-member panel led by MIT prepared the 400-plus page study, titled
“The Future of Geothermal Energy” (PDF, 14.1 MB). Sponsored by the U.S.
Department of Energy, it is the first study in some 30 years to take a
new look at geothermal, an energy resource that has been largely

I must admit that I have not read the entire report. But I was
favorably impressed by one thing mentioned in IEEE Spectrum:

January 23rd, 2007

…The study notes that its aim was to investigate whether the
implementation of new technologies, such as EGS, could result in the
inexpensive and environmentally responsible production of as much as
100 000 megawatts of base-load electric generating capacity in the U.S.
in the year 2050. In its conclusion, the panelists state that such a
goal is achievable with research, development, demonstration, and
deployment funding over the next five decades of approximately US $600
to $900 million, with an absorbed cost of $200 to $350 million…

I know I sometimes get too political, but I can’t help but point out
that for the cost of one day of war in Iraq, we could go a long way
toward reducing concern about Mideast oil.


  1. #1 J-Dog
    January 25, 2007

    Unmentioned bonus could be helping to “defuse” the potential of the super volcano in Yellowstone going off again.

  2. #2 david1947
    January 25, 2007

    J-Dog: Yellowstone is a very different scale of energy. To tap any significant portion of the potential down there would require stripping off the scenery. And that may result in triggering rather than suppressing, were we to even have access to the wherewithall to move that much earth and rock.

    The main problem with this idea is that not enough money is involved – nobody has a chance of becoming super-rich (i.e. billionaire) from it. The same reason the oil barons have been opposing other alternatives. The sensible way of deriving our daily energy is just too cheap. Not enough chinks for the self-serving to serve themselves our cash.

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