What is Hot Rock Energy?
Geothermal Energy | Hot Rock Energy | Hot Dry Rocks | Enhanced Geothermal Resources
Classical Geothermal energy is widely regarded as describing the process of using hot water or steam extracted from geothermal reservoirs in the earth's crust, created by upward convection and conduction of heat from the Earth’s mantle and core, that can be used for geothermal heat pumps, water heating, or electricity generation.
Hot Dry Rock (HDR) describes the process of extracting heat from deep crystalline rock heated by the decay of radioactive elements including uranium, thorium, and potassium isotopes in effect - nature's nuclear power plant.
In recognition of the recent discovery that these target rocks aren't dry the newer term Hot Rock Energy is beginning to gain dominance.
Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) describes Hot Rock Energy sytems with "engineered" heat exchangers where the hot rocks have been fractured to allow for enhanced fluid volumes and flow.
Note the timelines for Geothermal Hot Rock that predict that Hot Rock Energy will be amongst, if not,
the first of the non-coal "baseload" Alternative Energy systems to be deployed
Hot Rock Energy will provide the cheapest green baseload electricity emission free production system
The amount of money spent on Hot Rock Energy is rapidly increasing
Hot Rock Energy | EGS* - Enhanced Geothermal Resource
A type of geothermal power production system that utilizes the very high temperatures that can be found in rocks a few kilometers below ground. This is done by pumping high pressure water down a borehole into the heat zone. The water travels through fractures of the rock, capturing the heat of the rock until it is forced out of a second borehole as very hot water – the thermal energy of which is converted into electricity using either a steam turbine or a binary power plant system. All of the water, then cooled, is injected back into the ground to heat up again.
Since the 1970s, research projects aimed at developing techniques
for the creation of geothermal reservoirs are being conducted around
the world. These include the following:
• United States: Fenton Hill, Coso, Desert Peak, Glass Mountain, and The Geysers/Clear Lake
• United Kingdom: Rosemanowes
• France: Soultz, Le Mayet de Montagne
• Japan: Hijiori and Ogachi
• Australia: Cooper Basin, Hunter Valley, and others
• Sweden: Fjallbacka
• Germany: Falkenberg, Horstberg, and Bad Urach
• Switzerland: Basel and Geneva
The potential rewards for Australia of having almost limitless, green, base load electricity have been well recognised by our current Labor Government and several parliament members are actively promoting funding for research and ongoing development. A lot of interest is also being generated overseas and a 2007 paper, excerpted below, encapsulates many of the benefits that apply to both the USA and Australia.
The Future of Geothermal Energy (USA 2007) -Impact of Enhanced Geothermal Systems on the United States in the 21st Century. An assessment by the MIT-led interdisciplinary panel. Read full paper
"When examining the full life cycle of geothermal energy developments, their overall environmental impacts are markedly lower than conventional fossil-fired and nuclear power plants. In addition, they may have lower impacts in comparison to other renewables such as solar, biomass, and wind on an equivalent energy-output basis. This is primarily because a geothermal energy source is contained underground, and the surface energy conversion equipment is relatively compact, making the overall footprint of the entire system small. EGS geothermal power plants operating with closed-loop circulation also provide environmental benefits by having minimal greenhouse gas and other emissions. Being an indigenous resource, geothermal – like other renewable resources – can reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels. As it provides dispatchable base-load capacity, geothermal – even at high levels of penetration – would have no storage or backup-power requirements."
"Using reasonable assumptions regarding how heat would be mined from stimulated EGS reservoirs, we also estimated the extractable portion to exceed 200,000 EJ or about 2,000 times the annual consumption of primary energy in the United States in 2005. With technology improvements, the economically extractable amount of useful energy could increase by a factor of 10 or more, thus making EGS sustainable for centuries."
"Based on growing markets in the United States for clean, base-load capacity, the panel thinks that with a combined public/private investment of about $800 million to $1 billion over a 15-year period, EGS technology could be deployed commercially on a timescale that would produce more than 100,000 MWe or 100 GWe of new capacity by 2050. This amount is approximately equivalent to the total R&D investment made in the past 30 years to EGS internationally, which is still less than the cost of a single, new-generation, clean-coal power plant."