Traditional geothermal engineering generates renewable energy by tapping into naturally occurring reservoirs of water that have been heated by geothermal energy within deep within the Earth’s crust. It is clean and renewable, but unfortunately the number of locations around the world that has the required geology to build geothermal power plants, are very limited.
Enhanced geothermal engineering (EGS) is an artificial alternative that greatly increases the number of viable locations to build a geothermal facility. It works by pumping water deep into the ground to force open natural fissures in order to create artificial reservoirs of water that can then be heated by the Earth’s natural geothermal energy.
Related article: Geothermal Energy: More Exciting than Media Thinks
In October 2012, a group of scientists and engineers working in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon, near to the crater of the Newbury Volcano, began pumping 11 million gallons of water 10,000 feet underground at a rate of around 375 gallons a minute. The water was forced into narrow fissures in the crust at a pressure of 2,400 pounds per square inch, expanding the natural cracks in the rock to create an artificial reservoir.
The company undertaking this operation is AltaRock Energy, and it hopes to use the superheated water to work turbines on the surface and provide renewable power for the local area. It believes that the technology, whilst expensive (the Newbury plant will cost around $$ million to develop, whereas a similar plant using traditional geothermal energy would only cots between $5 and $20 million), could be used almost anywhere in the world, and could soon be used to generate as much as 10% of US energy.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com