Geothermal energy is poised for a breakout

Here you go…your Sunday reading! This is pretty exciting stuff, simple, clean, and loaded with the potential to provide all the energy we need, anywhere on the planet. Once the engineering hurdles are cleared, well, we’re in the clear, and the road is paved to provide all humankind’s energy for a bazillion years, or more.

A few takeaways from this fascinating article:

  • In the 1890s, the city of Boise, Idaho, tapped one (reservoir of geothermal heat) to create the US’s first district heating system, whereby one central source of heat feeds into multiple commercial and residential buildings. (Boise’s downtown still uses it.)
  • The first commercial geothermal power plant in the US was opened in 1960 in the Geysers, California; there are more than 60 operating in the US today.
  • “Theoretically,” Cairns says, “you could have zero surface footprint.”
  • Geothermal is buzzing with startups that specifically need innovation and expertise in drilling technology, the very skills many oil and gas workers already have. They could put those skills to work making the planet safer for future generations.

Juneau is already taking advantage of shallow ground geothermal heat. Ground source heat pumps power our airport, the valley library and pool, as well as a number of local homes.

Geothermal power, if it can be made to reliably and economically work in hotter, drier, and deeper rock, is a perfect complement to wind and solar. It is renewable and inexhaustible. It can run as baseload power around the clock, including at night, or “load follow” to complement renewables’ fluctuations. It is available almost everywhere in the world, a reliable source of domestic energy and jobs that, because it is largely underground, is resilient to most weather (and human) disasters. It can operate without pollution or greenhouse gases. The same source that makes the electricity can also be used to fuel district heating systems that decarbonize the building sector.

Source: Geothermal energy is poised for a breakout – Vox