Geothermal Power by Carla Mooney

By Carla Mooney

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Residents in Northern California protested the opening of a similar geothermal project to drill deep into hot dry rock at the Geysers’ geothermal field. Residents say that they have already experienced many small earthquakes because of nearby geothermal power plants, and they fear deeper wells could trigger a more serious event. “It’s terrifying. ”40 said Susan Bartlett, an area resident. When the drilling company, AltaRock Energy, announced they were halting the project in December 2009, residents celebrated.

Understandably, developers are hesitant to spend $2 million to $10 million to drill a well without knowing if they will find a useable resource. “You want to get as much extracted energy as possible for that set of wells you’ve drilled, to maximize the return on your investment,”43 explained Jefferson Tester, associate director of the Cornell Centre for a Sustainable Future. 64 What Is the Future of Geothermal Power? In order to tap into these blind resources, scientists have been working on a number of new technologies that allow them to locate geothermal resources more effectively.

Replacing Fossil Fuels Today the world’s energy demand is primarily met by fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. The supply of fossil fuels, however, is limited and nonrenewable. Most experts agree that the world needs to look for alternative energy sources like geothermal energy. High up-front costs, however, have been a barrier for geothermal development. Because fossil fuel power plants have been cheaper and more convenient, they have been built at a faster rate. However, if the price of fossil fuels increases as the supply declines, geothermal power plants may become a comparable or even more cost-effective energy source.

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