Hot dry rock or enhanced geothermal system?

11.09.06 | Comment?

Yesterday I had the pleasure to meet with a geologist who possesses vast knowledge of the geothermal landscape (literally.) One item that came up in our conversation was about the blog entry I wrote concerning geothermal power, and in particular “hot dry rock.”

The geologist indicated that HDR has been around for awhile with the initial work being pioneered in 1970 at the Fenton Hill site in Los Alamos, NM. Apparently the folks in Australia are at the same point the New Mexico crowd reached, they found hot dry rock, they were able to fracture it, but then the injection of fluids became something of an adventure. One doesn’t really know what will happen to the fluid injected into the system, sometimes it comes out the production wells and sometimes it doesn’t. No one really knows how to overcome that problem, though as the geologist noted, the Aussies seem very optimistic.

Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) is the new HDR, at least here in the US. The idea behind EGS is to use similar approaches that the oil & gas folks use to “enhance” production by attempting to stimulate activity on the edges of a known resource with fluid injection. It has been demonstrated that geothermal systems can be stimulated simply by putting geothermal wells into production. There is a site in California where hot springs proximate to a production field were affected, not by drying up or cooling down, but by heating up!

It’s always valuable to chat with the experts, it’s very clear there’s a huge amount to learn in this area as well as huge opportunity.

9 days to OSU/Michigan
Ohio State’s 2006 record: 10-0 Next up: at Northwestern 11/11
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