a really bad idea.
First let us start with the idea that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Geothermal, as I understand it, involves tapping into the molten core of the earth for energy. This can be done in several ways. Some methods are more passive – using a heat exchanger to heat water to heat house and water. One place I have experienced this is at the Breightonbush Hot Springs in Oregon. Their sauna is right over an open geothermal pool, capturing the heat and steam that would be lost into the atmosphere anyways. Another method, enhanced geothermal system, involved drilling into the earth ( i.e. !!!WARNING Not using naturally occurring sources of geothermal energy WARNING!!!) and injecting cold water into the “hot dry rock.” The water then heats, expands and is converted into electricity using either a steam turbine or a binary power plant system. This method has lead to earthquakes. Granted they were only 2.9. But man made earthquakes are not a good thing.
But what worries me is not the possibility of man made earthquakes, but the assumption that geothermal energy is a sustainable source. Sustainable in comparison to coal – less CO2 emitted and maybe more sustainable than nuclear power plants – no radioactive waste to deal with. But the long term consequences are much more frightening. And our collective inability to see down this road is what is really frightening.
The earth’s magnetic shield, the magnetosphere, “provides protection, without which life as we know it could not survive. Mars, with little or no magnetic field is thought to have lost much of its former oceans and atmosphere to space in part due to the direct impact of the solar wind. Venus with its thick atmosphere is thought to have lost most of its water to space in large part owing to solar wind ablation. ” The shield, which protects all life on earth, is generated by the Earth’s FLUID core spinning. See dynamo field.
For this to work, the core must be liquid. And if we suck more and more energy out of the core it will cool. This will lead to solidification. This will lead to death of the magnetosphere. And this will lead to the death of everything on the planet. Except for roaches and those bacteria that live down near the vents at the bottom of the ocean. Oh, but wait, Mars lost it’s ocean due to solar winds. So I guess everything on earth will die.
But, wait, you say – The Earth’s core is so huge and we could never extract that much energy. Humans can’t have that much impact on our planet.
When humans started using petrochemicals for fuel, did we even have a concept of running out of them or that we would affect the atmosphere? We, as a species, cannot look that far ahead.
You heard it here first – Geothermal energy is a BAD idea.