Is Fracking for Geothermal Energy Green or Dirty?

Geothermal energy is clean and green, but it's also hard to find good sites for its development. Stealing a page from fracking's playbook could change all that, but does it sully geothermal's pristine reputation in the process? Watch this video to hear more about what could be a game-changing technology.

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  • Report this Comment On August 24, 2013, at 4:18 PM, BobWallace wrote:

    First, Basel. It was dumb.

    Basel is close to a know sizable fault line. It is a city which has previously experienced major damage from earthquakes but has never been "hardened" as have buildings in California.

    Second, drilling holes in the ground can cause small tremors. We've seen that will oil wells for a hundred years. Our natural gas well drilling and fracking is causing small tremors.

    The major problem that needs to be solved for enhanced/hot rock geothermal is how to drill large diameter holes. Geothermal needs larger holes than do oil wells. This is a technical/engineering problem.

    Then there's fracking, or as the industry is starting to call it, shearing. It's going to cause small tremors at times. This means that we need to pick our sites carefully at first. Do the first wells away from where people live until we determine if there is an actual problem. As long as we don't trigger slippage in a major fault it's not likely that the resulting tremors will be felt even a few miles away.

    The geothermal industry is avoiding the term fracking because they've learned how to shear the rock without using fracking chemicals. A company called AltaRock managed to shear at three separate levels in a single hole a few months back and used none of the oil industry's fracking chemicals. That is a major development because it means that we can extract a great deal more energy from a single well, and it's the drilling that is expensive.

  • Report this Comment On August 27, 2013, at 11:29 PM, winemanjmr wrote:

    Yeah, I'd say Sara Murphy aptly describes herself as an optimist--apparently, an incurable one.

    EGS is a sham and will never be a game changer. Ormat and CPN saw an opportunity to feed at the public trough to do some one-off stimulations of marginal acreage and were successful in established geothermal fields, not the hinterlands needed for widespread EGS application. Alta Rock can issue press releases but can't economically build EGS plants. And, you are darn tooting that EGS will create significant earthquakes wherever it is attempted--Basel is not a one-off. The MIT study of 2006 was just an effort to stimulate federal funding--seven years later and virtually nothing has happened.

    Don't be fooled--geothermal EGS is not an energy panacea.

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2013, at 4:50 PM, BobWallace wrote:

    "And, you are darn tooting that EGS will create significant earthquakes wherever it is attempted--Basel is not a one-off. "

    Since we've had two enhanced geothermal plants created in the last year and we have another one that has been operating in Europe for some years - all without significant earthquakes - I think we can dismiss that claim.

    Will EGS become become inexpensive to compete with other renewable generation? Time will tell. It's very early in the first quarter to declare a winner. We should at least play the first half, don't cha think?

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