Geothermal Project to Tap into Volcano for Energy Production

Yahoo Contributor Network

According to USA Today, Seattle-based geothermal energy developer AltaRock Energy is planning on pumping 24 million gallons of water into Newberry Volcano, a dormant volcano near Bend, Ore., this summer. The project looks to tap into a new green energy source with the hopes that the water will return to the surface hot enough to generate energy.

So far, several investors, including $6.3 million from Google and $21.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, have stepped up to the promising energy project. Here are some facts about geothermal energy in the U.S., current projects, and other major plans to expand production from geothermal sources:

* Geothermal energy originates from the Earth's core, which heats the surrounding layers of rock, including the Earth's crust where it can be tapped into for energy production, according to the University of Wisconsin.

* In numerous cases, underground reservoirs of hot water or steam can be drawn for electricity use while some energy projects include injecting water into geologic deposits to be heated.

* The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. energy consumption from geothermal sources has continued to increase, including a 5 percent increase between 2004 and 2008.

* In 2008, energy consumption from geothermal sources was greater than solar, but still trumped by both hydroelectric and wind energy.

* A report from the Geothermal Energy Association noted that as of March, energy production from geothermal sources was underway in nine states with the U.S. having a total installed capacity of 3,102 megawatts.

* Additionally, in 2011, a total of 123 geothermal projects were confirmed as being under development in 15 different states with Nevada leading the way followed by California, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska.

* These types of projects are often eligible for federal incentives and funding through the Production Tax Credit and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

* Pacific Gas and Electric began drawing energy from the Geysers Geothermal Field, just 75 miles north of San Francisco, back in 1960 and continues to do so today.

* PG&E sought approval for a brand new geothermal energy agreement with Calpine Corporation in February of 2008, a project that would generate 175 megawatts of power.

* Ball State University's geothermal initiative is one of the largest in the nation, which includes drilling 3,600 boreholes around the campus, and aims to help save the school $2 million a year in operating costs.

* Similarly, the project cuts Ball State's carbon footprint in half and provides heating and cooling to 47 different buildings on the Indiana-based campus.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

View Comments