Posting in Energy
Researchers break more ground for geothermal in England. Will this be the country's next leading renewable energy source?
At a former cement site last Wednesday, hot and salty water sprang from almost 1,400 feet below into a heat exchanger to produce clean energy. Heated via radiation emanating from the area's underlying granite, the water will issue subterranean power to the "eco-village" of Eastgate. (To boot, the water may even bring steamy relaxation to the proposed community's spas. No such wells have been drilled for this purpose since the Romans drew their natural baths in Bath.)
Granite aquifers are salty. According to the researchers, the 104-degree-Fahrenheit water emerging from the well is saltier than seawater, about twice as much. This can be problematic for corroding pipes and for releasing the water back into the environment. Treating this water can also be costly. After six years of research and a £460,000-grant (almost $700,000) from the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change, a team of scientists have seemingly found a way around the predicament, by boring two holes into the Earth.
One for going up, one for going down.
The first one, completed three years ago, brings the steamy water from about 3,260 feet below. The second, drilled this year, returns the water to the granite at a depth of almost 1,380 feet. Here, the water absorbs heat as it seeps down through the rock's cracks and crevasses. Then, the liquid is sucked back up. And repeat.
Engineer Paul Younger of Newcastle University says in a statement:
In this system we are re-injecting the water using a second borehole. This means we are able to maintain the natural water pressures in the rocks and allow pumping to continue for many decades to come.
So, by recycling the hot water through what is essentially a huge central heating system deep underground, we can produce an almost carbon-neutral source of energy.
The granite located beneath Weardale in northeastern England is special in its natural permeability. This porous rock heats groundwater very well and does so close to the land's surface. Going deeper, Younger speculates that they may find naturally boiling water, which might be used to generate electricity.
Currently, the only other British geothermal plant (with a single borehole) exists in Southampton.
Related on SmartPlanet:
- U.S. geothermal infrastructure could support 7.2 million people
- Geothermal Energy: too dangerous?
- Geothermal gives West a clean energy advantage
Images: Newcastle University
Via: The Guardian
Jun 27, 2010
One of the earliest arguments against doing anything to stop global warming was "Do you know how big the earth is? There's no way we're doing all the damage that the eco nuts say we are" Turns out we are a big enough influence to affect the climate and chemical balances of the earth significantly enough to cause huge problems. So if this technology is viable and usable the world round, it could very well speed up cooling of the core. How dangerous could this be? Is it something that would only affect us another billion years from now, or might this result in enough of a change to make the core/magnetism/xxx alter radically within 100/200/1000 years? Bringing more heat up to the surface may speed up both Global Warming and Global Core Cooling in one shot! How Green is Green?
I can't believe that getting 104 degF water from underground is very efficient. When there's only a 20 or 30 degree difference (if that) from ambient temperature, extracting usable energy is difficult. Reading this article, I had to laugh. The other night on an episode of NatGeo TV's "How the Earth Changed History", an eruption of boiling mud in Indonesia which has taken out a village was spotlighted. It was shown as an example of how reckless humanity is destroying the environment in its rapacious quest for more and more energy. The cause? In 2006, drilling had accidentally tapped into an aquifer of underground boiling water that erupted, bringing up mud with it. Now they can't stop it. Be careful what you wish for...
Hot things expand, cold things contract. On December 21st, 2031, the village of Eastgate, Durham, U.K. was destroyed in a series of man-made, seismic events. The eco-village of Eastgate was well known as the first major, new implementation site for commercial production of power through the use of geothermal energy. At 2104 hours, GMT a hole approximately 5 kilometers in radius, centered on the geothermal plant, opened up and dropped the countryside by nearly 500 feet. The River Wear has been slowly filling the depression, flooding the area and causing further deaths to the survivors. King Harry has been quoted as saying, "This is the worst disaster Great Britain has faced since we switched from the pound to the Chinese Yuan."