Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oregon a Geothermal Power Wild West

Yeah I know. The title is a little bigger than the real article linked below. Either way I like using "Wild West" any time I can.

I am not as familiar with Geothermal power as I would like. Regardless its kind of outside the main buzz and gossip circles for biofuels, wind and solar power here in Oregon. I've never met a single person developing or involved in any way with a geothermal project. Though again and again I here from other sources (such as the Oregonian the most blunt of industry reporters) that Oregon is poised to be a player in geothermal projects.

Over the weekend I cam across an interesting Oregonian article from back in April. It just kind of popped up while I was looking from an article I had just read in the print edition. Thought I would share it. The best portion is a simple description of what geothermal power really is:

Modern geothermal power plants are more efficient than past versions. They draw hot water from the ground, using it to heat another fluid -- often isopentane -- that turns to vapor at a lower temperature than water. The isopentane vapor drives a turbine, which spins a generator to produce power. Afterward, the isopentane cools and condenses back into liquid form so it can go through the heating cycle again. The water, meanwhile, is reinjected into the ground to be reheated again.

Unfortunately the article does not talk about the specifics of what makes geothermal profitable. What the scale required would be. And of course other types of harnessed uses. My old trusty Wikipedia on the other hand has a little bit more and a few promising links. But no real discussion of cost of production and the capital cost of building a plant.

No comments: