Fracking Could Help Geothermal Become a Power Player
Here's another use for fracking: expanding access to hot rocks deep beneath Earth’s surface for energy production
. In April Ormat Technologies hooked up the first such project—known in the lingo as an enhanced geothermal system, or EGS—to the nation's electric grid near Reno, Nev.
By some estimates, the U.S. could tap as much as 2,000 times the nation’s current annual energy use of roughly 100 exajoules (an exajoule equals a quintillion, or 1018 joules) via enhanced geothermal technologies. With respect to electricity, the DoE concludes at least 500 gigawatts of electric capacity could be harvested from such EGS systems. Even better, hot rocks underlie every part of the country and the rest of the world. Australia's first enhanced geothermal system, spicily named Habanero, began producing power in May, and Europe has brought three such power plants online.
although similar natural bounty has turned Iceland into a geothermal powerhouse, there are only so many such sites around. That's where fracking, the controversial practice of pumping fluid underground to shatter shale and release oil or gas, can help. Fracking “enhances” geothermal by making cracks in hot rocks where none existed, allowing heat to be harvested from Earth’s interior practically anywhere,
although this reduces the total power produced because of the need to pump water through the system.
As an added benefit, however:geothermal power can run constantly—the hot rocks don't cool very fast—which makes it renewable and predictable. "Geothermal is homegrown, reliable and clean," says Rohit Khanna, program manager at the World Bank for its Energy Sector Management Assistance Program. That is a big part of the reason it is being pursued in developing countries such as Chile, Indonesia, Kenya and the Philippines.
David Biello, Scientific American, http://news.yahoo.com/fracking-could...100100318.html