…Clean Energy Promotion…
One wonders whether the Wall Street Journal is being paid to publish reports on energy issues that are merely propaganda for clean energy.
The latest example was the Alternative Energy special section on November 14.
- Solar panels that “look good”
- The need for more EV charging stations
- The EV supply chain
- How farms can use land for both solar and crops
- The use of abandoned mines for pumped storage (an old chestnut)
- In search for cheaper hydrogen
and a really old chestnut,
- Deep Thermal, which was called Hot Rocks 25 years ago
All these were propaganda in support of the so-called energy transition.
Hot rocks has been a subject of interest for at least twenty-five years.
Traditional geothermal systems are used around the world, taking advantage of the heat from the Earth’s interior that produces steam and hot brine near the surface.
An area in California, known as the geysers, is where the preponderance of geothermal energy is used in the United States for generating electricity.
The hot rocks proposal is different, in that it requires drilling thousands of feet into the Earth to reach areas where hot rocks are found in abundance.
Hot rocks entails drilling two wells to depths reaching over two miles where there are high temperature rock formations. Fracturing techniques are used to open fractures in the rocks between the two wells. Water is injected down one well where it would be converted to steam as it travels through the fractures in the hot rocks. The steam would rise to the surface through the second well and be used to drive a turbine generator.
While theoretically possible to produce unlimited quantities of electricity from hot rocks, it’s easier said than done.
In 2003, Geodynamics Limited, in Australia, attempted to develop hot rocks, but the efforts failed. The company drilled wells to a depth of nearly three miles, but couldn’t sustain the production of steam.
In 2006, an effort was made in Basle, Switzerland to develop hot rocks, but it was stopped when there were earthquakes.
While earthquakes shouldn’t be a major problem, they can’t be dismissed out of hand.
Governments have thrown gobs of money at Hot Rocks in hopes of proving it can be made to work.
The Department of Energy reportedly threw $100 million into the unsuccessful development of hot rocks in Nevada. According to a 2005 report by Reuters, the Australian government also proposed spending A$500 million on a hot rocks project.
The latest proposal comes from MIT where new drilling techniques could allow it to drill down sixteen miles.
While anything is possible, there are many hurdles besides drilling deep wells. There’s the problem of injecting water, fracturing the hot rocks, and then ensuring that steam will remain steam as it travels to the surface.
Traditional geothermal works. The only problem is the lack of suitable geothermal resources near the surface.
Deep thermal will get a lot of money thrown at it, while natural gas and oil are cheap and readily available.
Hot rocks was only one of the items in the WSJ spread. Solar, wind, the EV supply chain and hydrogen were the others.
The forthcoming book, Clean Energy Crisis, available in January, will review renewables and the supply chain for critical materials.
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Wow. Science fiction has deeply infected the green movement. I wonder if there’s a vaccine for that ailment. In the meantime, how about just gathering some uranium rocks, put them in a reactor, and then make steam that way.
As a long-time reader of the WSJ I am also dismayed by their reporting. Certainly, Holman Jenkins does a good job in his articles on the fallacy of man-made global warming. The Editorial Board also gets it but it does not seem to transfer to their feature writers as you describe.
Keep up the good work!
Thanks for your comments.