Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year 2009 - The year of geothermal energy?

Tomorrow is the last day of this year and we should not cross the bridge before we come to it. Therefore, the last article in 2009 Geothermania dedicates not to writing about the perspectives for 2010, but to summarizing the ending year.
  • Scott Sklar: Year 2009 in favor of geothermal energy

„This year in clean energy - what a ride,“ writes Scott Sklar. And he is right. At the very beginning, Barack Obama was inaugurated as U.S. president and he promised the support for clean energies on a large scale. A short after he came to the White House, the first stimulus bills had been passed - defining clean energy tax credits and allocating billions of dollars for energy research and development.

The second leap forward is the proposal of U.S. climate act, although the passing is frozen in upper Senate‘s chamber. In addition, the UNFCCC international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in Denmark can be also described as a good sign in favor of clean energy, writes Mr. Sklar.

Third: The poll executed by Environmental Protection Agency in December revealed, that according to public opinion, greenhouse emissions are „harmful“. This is the key aspect for greater support of clean technologies, geothermal ones including.

Despite the global financial and economic crisis, the sector of clean energy expands. The geothermal sector has grown as well. For example, according to study of Emerging Energy Research, geothermal market in U.S. has more than 4,400 MW of installed capacity in form of project under implementation. In addition, in coming five years, it is expected to grow by two times of current size. The global geothermal market expects implementing projects with total capacity of 9,000 MW. This time, there are over 215 commercial geothermal project in 24 countries; all of them are fully operational, adds Mr. Sklar.
  • Google‘s philanthropy and failure
This year, Google presented its vision called „Clean Energy 2030“. It is a short analysis and proposal, how U.S. could limit own carbon emissions production and how the energy mix would look in some 20 years from now.

Fossil fuels and coal have no future, states the report. Instead of them, the electricity (as well as the other forms of energy) are about to be produced thanks to technologies on field of wind, solar and geothermal energy. But this will not happen somehow on its own. Due to expectation that total energy demand will rise by two-thirds in comparison to current level, due to expecting carbon emissions to decrease (Google expects decrease by 48 perc.), exploiting new energies, building electro plug-in car-hybrids - the enormous determinations on field of national and international policy will be required. States and international organizations should set ambitious targets, when it comes to smart energy grids and improving the fuel/energy efficiency as well.

On field of geothermal energy, Google‘s start-up AltaRock Energy intended to drill the first geothermal well in California in the very late summer 2009, but due to „geologic anomalies“, the company suspended the beginning of testing phase. Although „AltaRock“ has become the synonym for geothermal drilling technologies‘ innovation, Google did not come up with the totally new concept/approach, but decided to go down the way of improving the current technologies.

So, Google decided to build on something we consider as the main obstacle for real exploiting of EGS potential that is enormous.
  • Karl Gawell and Leslie Blodgett: EGS on rise


The year 2009 was the year of launching the research on field of Enhanced Geothermal Systems - EGS in U.S., writes tandem Gawell - Blodgett for Renewable Energy World. „Federal and state policies for renewable energy production, tax incentives, leasing and permitting and research have all been fundamental to geothermal development; and in 2009 there were major, positive new developments in all of these areas,“ they say.

For  example, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has invested more than 5 million dollars into 1 demonstration EGS project - Desert Park in Nevada. The aim is simple: to show that EGS facility can be operational in commercially effective way. This one has installed capacity of 5 MW.

Overall public support for geothermal research and development is „an historical shift“. It has been for the first time since 25 years that in 2009 U.S. DOE put significant amount of money directly in way of enhancing geothermal effort itself.

Similarly to Scott Sklar, according to Gawell and Leslie, geothermal sector could enjoy continuous growth. Under the more concrete short-term outlook, both expect double digits number of countries investing noticeable sums into geothermal in 2010. In addition, the issue of climate change will remain one of the key factors influencing the priorities of energy policies as well as new technologies and general technology development could set new emphasis on geothermal as a clean source of the future.
  • GEONET and GEOELEC platforms started
From our point of view, the noticeable success has been the creation of two geothermal platforms in EU and Central Europe:

GEOELEC became the first ever European Technology Platform (ETP) focused directly on geothermal energy. Since the beginning of December 2009, this type of energy has become more visible in Brussels – in "EU bubble". GEOELEC means “Geothermal Electricity” and as the name suggests, its aim is to support research and development of geothermal energy technologies in order to be used in way of producing the electricity.

GEONET is a kind of regional cross-border platform. This one was established in November 2009 by the partners from Hungary and Slovakia. Thanks to the support of ERDF (European Regional Development Fund), there will be some expert conferences and workshops in 2010. Similarly to GEOELEC, also GEONET's primary focus is the creating electricity in geothermal way.

Well, regarding these platforms, we are proud to say that our company (Geothermal Anywhere) actively contributed to creation of both. In case of GEOELEC as an active participant at opening session in Munich (Germany), in case of GEONET as an co-founder and administrator.
  • And finally, Geothermania had been established in 2009 :-)

Last but not least, let us promote ourselves a little bit and remind that it was on 11th May 2009, when Geothermania published its first blog post informing about „the solution lying just under our feet“. Since that time we published 32 articles (this one is no. 33). All this thanks to support of Geothermal Anywhere company, which focuses on developing own innovative drilling concept, which should stop the exponential growth of drilling costs, when it comes to wells of depths 6 kilometers and more.

In 2009, Geothermania has been read in 88 countries all over the world, especially in United States, Slovakia and Belgium. Among our users you would find universities, users browsing via Google‘s private company network, various research centers and technology institutes, but from time to time also people working for big oil companies.

Geothermania has successfully explored and exploited the potential of being on Facebook. Our Facebook's site has more than 700 fans and this social media has brought ourselves noticeable amount of traffic.

At the end of the year, we would like to thank all of you, our readers, for the support, e-mails, feedback etc. At the same time, especially we would like to thank blogging platform for running our sites on their servers as well as, and for linking on us and bringing us noticeable amount of traffic.

Photos by Flickr/Kevin Saff, Flickr/lydurs and Flickr/Steve & Jemma Copley (all provided under Creative Commons license).

No comments:

Post a Comment