Tuesday, January 08, 2008

You can stop digging now

Everyone's favourite South Africa-based demolition and mining expert has an interesting post up explaining why geothermal energy simply isn't feasible in most places.
Sadly if one is looking for a universal source of clean and cheap energy, geothermal sources are still quite a long way away. That is not to say that these problems cannot be overcome. Engineers are good at performing miracles, after all. Hell, even the impossible can be achieved with time and money as the Sovs proved. But therein lies the true problem. The Russians took ten years and God knows how much money to sink one hole. A viable geothermal station would probably need several tens of holes. At current prices and with current technology the cost of establishing sufficient heat mines to make this concept practical are just too great to make it commercially viable.

Do go and read the whole post: I found it quite fascinating.


James Higham said...

"Commercially viable" - the sole criterion of anything.

JuliaM said...

It is the only criterion worth mentioning if you are rying to get some poor sucker to invest in it, yes.

anthonynorth said...

It seems to me one problem with the great search for alternative power is ignoring a big part of the issue.
First of all, every physical activity we do involves energy. Are there engineers far sighted enough to theorise how to capture it?
Further, what about power storage? I think I'm right that there hasn't been a significant advance of the battery in decades.
Let's look at how to keep the energy we can produce without allowing it to escape.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm right that there hasn't been a significant advance of the battery in decades.

Anthony North, you should read Devil's Kitchen. In this post you will find a link to a blog telling us the latest news about batteries: They can make an existing lithium ion battery hold ten times the charge it did before, by changing one thing about them. Sounds like a significant advance to me :)

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