The current administration’s initiative to press forward in transforming our economy via green technology, while ignoring carbon-based energy, hit a speed bump when a geothermal project in California was shut down by the company involved, according to the New York Times.
AltaRock Energy, headquartered in Seattle, was the firm running the project, with funding from the DOE, as well as some $30 million in venture capital. Located about 100 miles north of San Francisco, at a site known as the Geysers, the project was shut down, and the drilling rig was removed, apparently because of earthquake fears, as well as unforeseen problems with the drilling progress.
A similar project in Basel, Switzerland, was permanently shut down on December 10th, after a series of earthquakes in 2006 and 2007 caused millions of dollars in property damage, although fortunately, with no loss of life, or serious injury.
Yet a third such project, in Landau In Der Pflalz, Germany, is “under study”, after a 2.7 magnitude tremor was experienced back in August, shaking both nerves, as well as buildings. In this case, a panel has been appointed to study the causes of the quake, which the company involved in the project, denies was caused by the plant. This point of view is contested by seismologists, who attribute the quake directly to the drilling involved in the project.
Geothermal energy is the third leg of the three legged stool of alternate energy; the other two “legs” being, of course, solar and wind. Probably the most attractive feature of geothermal energy generation lays in the fact that, unlike solar or wind, its not “intermittent”. By drilling deep into the earth to tap either steam pockets, and/or extremely hot rock, such an energy source would be available 24/7/365.
What I find most disturbing about this entire affair, is not that the administration is pursuing alternative energy, but rather that it seems to be doing so while excluding arguably “lower hanging fruit”, such as expanded use of NG, for an example, in their quest to lower pollution and increase our energy independence. Without getting into any sort of debate about climate change, etc., I think it can be generally agreed that, when it comes to pollution, “less” is better than “more”.
Perhaps it’s the result of the efforts of the ultra green backers of Obama’s coalition, but the argument seems to be framed as a match between “evil” big oil, big utilities, etc., vs. “good” green technology.
Disclosure: No positions