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What’s Holding Geothermal Energy Back?

Scorpio

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#1
What’s Holding Geothermal Energy Back?
Irina Slav




It’s abundant, and it’s emissions-free: the heat from the earth’s mantle that reaches well into the crust and gives deep drillers a headache occasionally is the new star on the renewables block. Nevertheless, oil and gas companies have been somewhat reluctant to embrace it. Let’s first clarify: geothermal energy is only “new” in terms of the media attention it has been getting. Researchers - including people from the oil and gas industry - have been working for decades on technologies to extract the heat from the earth and either use it directly or turn it into electricity. It is only gaining prominence now as these technologies advance and the world’s attention becomes increasingly focused on alternatives to fossil fuels.


For the oil industry, geothermal is the alternative that, from a certain perspective, makes the most sense. Both oil and heat extraction involve drilling, so it should go without saying that the oil and gas industry is best placed in terms of expertise to exploit the benefits of geothermal energy. Indeed, the technology used to extract heat right now is extremely similar to the technology used for oil and gas extraction, up to and including fracturing the rock. Still, we hear very little about oil and gas supermajors allocating billions for geothermal exploration.


One reason, of course, is that right now is not the best time for major investments in new business. Now is the time to retrench and wait out the crisis. Yet some would argue this is the best time to diversify into a new business, and geothermal energy could be just the right business. This is where the challenges of geothermal come to the fore.


One of these challenges is the period it takes to make money from geothermal, according to Dave Waters, director and geoscience consultant with Paetoro Consulting UK. In commentsfollowing the Pivot2020 conference from earlier this month - an event dedicated to the present and future of geothermal energy - Waters listed a number of challenges for this industry.


Making money was one of those challenges.


“The honest truth is that (so far anyway) it has been much harder to make large amounts of money on shorter term time scales (<5 years) in geothermal than it has been historically for oil and gas,” Waters wrote. “The money, when it comes (it does), takes longer time scales. Investors can reasonably ask – why bust a gut on hard long smaller stuff when short easy big stuff is available?”


Yet oil, it seems, is on its slow and torturous way out, and even OPEC is beginning to recognize it. Oil will not be around forever. So, from a longer-term perspective, it might pay the industry to rearrange its priorities concerning ROI expectations. And besides, geothermal extraction technology is constantly advancing: there is one company, Sage Geosystems, that says it can go from proof of concept for its heat extraction system to a working system that would feed a 10 MW power plant in just three years. By the way, Sage was founded by two oil and gas industry vets.


Another challenge is the high upfront costs for developing a geothermal energy system. This is a major problem for the oil and gas industry, especially now. And then there is the uncertainty.


“Wind turbines and solar do not need to spend millions first before they even know if they have a resource that might work,” Paetoro Consulting’s Waters notes in his comments. “The sun is there for everyone to see. The wind is there for everyone to feel. The rock temperature and permeability 3 km below is not.”


These are challenges that geothermal will need to overcome in some way or another, so its benefits - virtually inexhaustible if managed properly, zero-emissions - could shine. The good thing is that it is receiving support: the Department of Energy earlier this week announced it had allocated $28 million for five geothermal energy projects. Private investors are also a likely supporter of these technologies: wind and solar may be cheaper, but they are also intermittent and have finite lives; you don’t need to retire or recycle a geothermal well.


By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com



http://www.silverbearcafe.com/private/08.20/geothermal.html
 

DodgebyDave

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#2
about 16 miles of crust
 

gringott

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We should have shifted to geo/heat pump for homes, not giant plants boring into the earths crust.

Independent, works, costs are known, can be adjusted for the local climate. Drill down or make a field.
We have had more than enough time to put it in 60% or more of new construction. Just like putting your house correctly on the land to use passive solar, this should be a part of designing your hvac. Why isn't it? I don't have a clue. I should have put it in 23 years ago. It would have paid for itself two times by now, with a better function than my current system. I am a loser.
 

Ensoniq

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#5
I’ve got geothermal at my house. It is very expensive to start but enables roughly halved energy bills on a monthly basis.

Feds give a 30% of cost tax credit
 

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We should have shifted to geo/heat pump for homes, not giant plants boring into the earths crust.

Independent, works, costs are known, can be adjusted for the local climate. Drill down or make a field.
We have had more than enough time to put it in 60% or more of new construction. Just like putting your house correctly on the land to use passive solar, this should be a part of designing your hvac. Why isn't it? I don't have a clue. I should have put it in 23 years ago. It would have paid for itself two times by now, with a better function than my current system. I am a loser.
Geothermal in houses rarely works well and Bill's are often just as much or more. It doesn't work
 

gringott

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WOW. Okay.

I know in the 1970s a place it was tried northern Illinois. They didn't go in the ground they used a natural lake. Worked great until it did not. Bad winter, failed. Now over the years I have seen various ways of putting it in and they claimed it worked.

Could it be that you have to make sure it is engineered for your exact situation not just all get put in the same like they do here with air heat pumps? Cuz they work fine here in Kentucky.
 

Voodoo

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I think it works pretty well for cooling but that's usually not real expensive. Trying to heat a home from a 50 deg source often needs a backup which is often just electric resistance. Plus I've seen a lot of components die like pumps or boards that are expensive to replace. I'm not sold. Much better are the newer radiant heat systems in concrete slabs.
 

ttazzman

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I have geothermal ..heat and cooling ....it works extremely well......major hurdle would be up front costs.....but i used tax credits...coop rebates ...etc to ease the pain....

i didnt even install the electric resistance heating option...no need

will supply my hot water needs also but i didnt hook that up due to being on hard well water
 

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There's a high school east of me that installed geothermal in the football field several years ago.

So far, it's been working great!
 

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I have geothermal and it is amazingly efficient. I also have 6” walls with a lot of insulation. But yes, installation is pretty costly. I bought the house this way and the initial bill was included with my documents. Expensive, yes. Worth it? Also yes..
 

Buck

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#12
Q:
if...IF
we're generating some mega Kwh from a geothermal plant, and the caldera, that is under the plant, erupts:
Can we get enough H1B Immigrants, fast enough, to rebuild the power-plant, at cost?

second q:
How many H1B Immigrants does it take to 'babysit' a power plant that exists on top of a volcano?

any Chinese up for the task?



asking as the CIA are too stoopid to ask the right questions...saying this for an FBI friend

LOL
 

tigerwillow1

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#13
Trying to heat a home from a 50 deg source often needs a backup which is often just electric resistance.
I'm really surprised by this. With the newer air source heat pumps having a COP greater than 1 all the way down to zero deg F, I would have thought that a modern heat pump would be hugely efficient with a 50 deg source.
 

ttazzman

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I'm really surprised by this. With the newer air source heat pumps having a COP greater than 1 all the way down to zero deg F, I would have thought that a modern heat pump would be hugely efficient with a 50 deg source.
It is extremely effecient at 50-60deg water.......many people really dont understand how ground source really works leading to comments that are not accurate......they do start to have other issues at freezing temps but even then as long as your using a antifreeze solution they are fine

i have two systems ....one for home one for shop

they are naturally more effecient at cooling than heating ..so i sized my system for heat loads....i then used a two stage system ...and set it up to use two stages on the cooling side and only one stage (max) on the heating side....low is about 3 tons...high is 5 tons ......in cooling it rarely ever gets out of 1st stage.........

#s on my home system are....1st stage eer/25.7 cop 4.4 ...2nd stage eer 19.2 and cop 4.3 ....the loss of eer on the 2nd stage is due to my water flow volume is constant no matter the stage

i sure equipment is getting better but my stuff is about 10yrs old now
 

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#15
This was interesting...

What's the Deepest Hole We Can Possibly Dig?

 

gringott

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I posted about the below years ago here.

In Israel I saw everywhere on the roof tops little water tanks with a little panel on top. Never was close up to examine, but they told me in broken Engrish that they took the sunlight and heated the water in the tank below, were cheap and needed little or no maintenance, no power at all, and gravity fed the water to the taps in the building directly below. For example, in my apartment in the Golan Heights I had one directly above my combination bathroom that had the kitchen sink outside the bathroom door. Meaning one wet wall. The bathroom was completely tiled walls, floor and ceiling. The back wall had a little window for venting, the toilet was to the left as you face in, the shower head was on the right wall. No curtain or any divider of any kind. The sink and mirror were on the right as you entered. Not big but big enough for one or two ouccupants. One drain in the center with correct pitch. I never ran out of hot water.

My morning routine was to sit on the toilet taking a dump with the shower on spraying slightly on my left side, while holding a lit cigarette and a cup of hot black Turkish coffee in my right, I was quite skilled at keeping the cigarette dry while puffing away and sipping at the coffee while semi-showering. I could do this without issue while sober, semi sober hung over or completely drunk. Sometimes I miss those personal moments.
 

Ensoniq

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#17
This was interesting...

What's the Deepest Hole We Can Possibly Dig?

Thanks a lot man. That was so good I had to watch the one about a billion years in the future (spoiler - global warming doesn’t happen), then the Mariana Trench one, then the size of the universe one, then the one about the Black Death.

I guess I’ll clean the garage tomorrow ;)
 

Voodoo

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It is extremely effecient at 50-60deg water.......many people really dont understand how ground source really works leading to comments that are not accurate......they do start to have other issues at freezing temps but even then as long as your using a antifreeze solution they are fine

i have two systems ....one for home one for shop

they are naturally more effecient at cooling than heating ..so i sized my system for heat loads....i then used a two stage system ...and set it up to use two stages on the cooling side and only one stage (max) on the heating side....low is about 3 tons...high is 5 tons ......in cooling it rarely ever gets out of 1st stage.........

#s on my home system are....1st stage eer/25.7 cop 4.4 ...2nd stage eer 19.2 and cop 4.3 ....the loss of eer on the 2nd stage is due to my water flow volume is constant no matter the stage

i sure equipment is getting better but my stuff is about 10yrs old now
5 tons isn't really a big system. How many square ft are you conditioning? Our AC is 15 tons for a not very large house. A lot is dependent on the initial design and many are not designed or installed properly around here. The vertical loops work better but again adds to the cost.
 

ttazzman

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5 tons isn't really a big system. How many square ft are you conditioning? Our AC is 15 tons for a not very large house. A lot is dependent on the initial design and many are not designed or installed properly around here. The vertical loops work better but again adds to the cost.
engineering calculated load (cooling) for the structure was 52k btuh...(61k btuh heat side)........3200sq/ft and 45k cubic/ft of conditioned space.... (yes we are well insulated) ....(we are on 5-200' vertical well loops) (i do think we up'ed the load calculations so i would qualify for a 5 ton unit and still get the rebates so calcs are to the agressive side load calculations were required for rebates) my coop rebates were $750 a ton at the time

its been my experience 5 tons is usually the largest single unit size availible for residential ...i think some are makeing 6 toners now ......more requires more units due to lack of 3phase power in most residential locations

with all due respect if you have a reasonable sized home and have 15ton of ac....something is seriously wrong....1 ton equates to about 12,000 btus and to about 400cfm
 
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gringott

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#21
Gosh darn some of you guys are engineers that is obvious.
 

BackwardsEngineeer

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#22
Repped Florida Heat pump for a good while a decade back, replaced a bunch of systems installed 30+ years earlier. The owners wouldn't consider anything else! If you can drill reasonably in your area it is usually worth the cost. Did whole elementary / middle schools complex's with them, hundreds of wells worked out great. The newer version in combination with some of these new super whooper dehumidification desert Aire / Munters type units make for a super clean system...

To ttazz's point never underestimate the efficiency of sourcing from a consistent temperature...
 

BackwardsEngineeer

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#23
15 ton should do about 9000sqft. Sure it’s not a 1.5 ton. My house has a 2 ton. I always undersized AC for longer run times to dehumidify, but I’m in MN where it’s humid.
Check out some of the mini split systems they wring out the wet stuff here in Charleston... it just might be humid here... lol
 

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engineering calculated load (cooling) for the structure was 52k btuh...(61k btuh heat side)........3200sq/ft and 45k cubic/ft of conditioned space.... (yes we are well insulated) ....(we are on 5-200' vertical well loops) (i do think we up'ed the load calculations so i would qualify for a 5 ton unit and still get the rebates so calcs are to the agressive side load calculations were required for rebates) my coop rebates were $750 a ton at the time

its been my experience 5 tons is usually the largest single unit size availible for residential ...i think some are makeing 6 toners now ......more requires more units due to lack of 3phase power in most residential locations

with all due respect if you have a reasonable sized home and have 15ton of ac....something is seriously wrong....1 ton equates to about 12,000 btus and to about 400cfm
Yeah, my bad. Read it as 30,000 lbs when its 30,000 BTU. Just a little biiiiit off. Lbs or tons are a silly measurement for energy anyway.
 

ttazzman

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Yeah, my bad. Read it as 30,000 lbs when its 30,000 BTU. Just a little biiiiit off. Lbs or tons are a silly measurement for energy anyway.
we were trying to be gentle with you sir.... all is good...:beer:
 

newmisty

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I posted about the below years ago here.

In Israel I saw everywhere on the roof tops little water tanks with a little panel on top. Never was close up to examine, but they told me in broken Engrish that they took the sunlight and heated the water in the tank below, were cheap and needed little or no maintenance, no power at all, and gravity fed the water to the taps in the building directly below. For example, in my apartment in the Golan Heights I had one directly above my combination bathroom that had the kitchen sink outside the bathroom door. Meaning one wet wall. The bathroom was completely tiled walls, floor and ceiling. The back wall had a little window for venting, the toilet was to the left as you face in, the shower head was on the right wall. No curtain or any divider of any kind. The sink and mirror were on the right as you entered. Not big but big enough for one or two ouccupants. One drain in the center with correct pitch. I never ran out of hot water.

My morning routine was to sit on the toilet taking a dump with the shower on spraying slightly on my left side, while holding a lit cigarette and a cup of hot black Turkish coffee in my right, I was quite skilled at keeping the cigarette dry while puffing away and sipping at the coffee while semi-showering. I could do this without issue while sober, semi sober hung over or completely drunk. Sometimes I miss those personal moments.
Reminded me of this educational clip regarding the wooden water towers in New York City. Under 6 Minute clip.