Archive for Geothermal

Thanks to all

Thanks to all the people who contributed to the blog in order to make it a success. All these posts help keep us high up inside of the competition this was made for, and so now we have made it to the top 10 because of it. The team is now able to send some students to New York to the United Nations Headquarters in order to learn more about helping out the environment.

As such, this is most likely the last update until late into the next school year, when we continue to all work together on these green activities. Until then, thanks once more to all the people that have contributed. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without you guys.

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Heat Under Our Feet

heat-below

In a time where global warming is a major issue, people look to all kinds of alternative energy sources. Wind, water, and solar power technologies are becoming more advanced in the world. But along with them comes the power from the earth itself – geothermal Energy. This energy is created from the heat of Earth.

Geothermal resources can be found anywhere between shallow ground, maybe a few feet below the surface, to hot water and rock several kilometers down. Sometimes, these resources can be found even deeper, all the way to the magma. Wells have been drilled over 1.5 kilometers deep, to tap steam and very hot water and bring it to the surface.

Advantages

Because geothermal energy requires no fuel, it is pretty much emission-free. Because of this, it is not affected by the unstable costs of fuel. Also, since it does not rely on an on-and-off source, like wind energy, it can have a capacity factor of up to 90 percent.

The cost of land to build a geothermal power plant on is usually less expensive than the cost of land for other plants such as oil, gas, coal, or nuclear. This is due to space. A geothermal plant takes up very little room; therefore a large area of land is unnecessary. Also, because geothermal energy is cleaner, and does not contribute to pollution, tax cuts may be given and/or no environmental bills to comply with the countries’ carbon emissions scheme.

Once the geothermal plant is built, the energy is mostly free. Of course, some energy may be needed to run a pump, but it can always be taken from the generated energy.

Geothermal energy is, obviously, renewable. So long as the underground water and rocks remains hot, the energy will keep coming.

Disadvantages

Because geothermal energy is taken from underground, sometimes thousands of feet down, this makes finding a suitable location difficult.

There is also the issue that a location that previously had been extracting stream may suddenly stop. In some cases, this can happen and last for up to 10 years.

Developers of geothermal power plants must keep in mind that harmful gases can escape from deep within the earth, through the holes drilled by the constructors. The plant must be able to contain any leaked gases, but disposing of the gas can be very tricky to do safely.

In short, geothermal energy is a possible solution to fossil fuels. However both the advantages and disadvantages must be weighed before it adopted as the choice solution. Either or, using geothermal energy may definitely help to reduce emissions in the atmosphere and aid in stopping climate change.

-By Almayra Porrata-Doria

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Sequestration: Viable Solution?

The Department of Energy has made it clear that they will try to make carbon sequestration work, and they recently put out a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to help them do it. The FOA states that up to $24 million will be set aside for projects that will test out different ways of sequestering carbon in “geological formations” – i.e. underground or underwater. The people who are granted the awards will get about 80% of the costs covered by the DOE.

There are various aspects that need to be investigated. First of all, carbon dioxide can be sequestered in different places. Some suggest pumping it into empty mines and natural gas wells, others promote the idea of storing it deeper under the Earth’s crust itself, and yet others advocate dissolving it into deep parts of the ocean. We don’t really know which one will be most effective and risk-free.

Besides figuring out the big picture, there are also details that need to be worked out, like establishing standards and protocols for measuring how much carbon dioxide is stored in a given system, how much leaks out, etc. And scientists also need to agree on a way to model these systems and predict how they will behave. Because we want to be pretty darn sure that the gas we pump underground stays there and doesn’t burst out like a colossal champagne bottle.

In other words, this is a big step for carbon sequestration in America – we’ve progressed from just talking about it all the time to actually challenging people to make it work.

Carbon sequestration is a funny thing. Dealing with greenhouse gas emissions by diverting them into the ground seems a lot more like treating the symptoms rather than the cause of our national energy disease. It’s not – to quote an overused and poorly defined word – “sustainable”. Still, the realists out there will remind me that attempting to curb global warming without it is impossible. In a perfect world, carbon sequestration represents an imperfect, but necessary transition technology. So let’s make that transition smooth, quick and successful.

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