The Future Lies in Geothermal Energy
Source: Softpedia, Tudor Vieru (9/6/10)
"Oil and drilling industry technology may be used to capture geothermal energy."
Geothermal energy could be the solution to all our energy needs—present and future, experts say. The source is nearly inexhaustible, and is located just under our feet. We only need to reach out and take it.
Geologists estimate that massive amounts of heat exist in the planet's crust, mantle and core. They say that about 99% of Earth's mass is heated to well beyond 1,000 degrees Celsius.
"If we can drill and recover just a fraction of the geothermal heat that exists, there will be enough to supply the entire planet with energy—energy that is clean and safe," explains SINTEF Materials and Chemistry senior researcher Are Lund.
Additional heat in the rock layers comes from radioactive materials inside the mantle, which progressively decay, and send heat through the rock layers above.
"The only thing that we need is the technology to harvest it," he adds further. The scientist says that, if drilling workers can reach 10,000 meters, then geothermal energy production would increase its efficiency 10 times over, above today's levels.
There are also some hurdles in this field, such as for example the fact that electronics and materials give way at large temperatures and pressures. This means that drills cannot go very deep.
"We have a strong and innovative oil industry [in Norway]. Because the oil industry has wanted to develop oil and gas deposits from inaccessible areas, drilling technology has evolved tremendously over the past ten years, Lund and Lademo say.
"There are test wells for oil that go 12,000 meters into the Earth. Knowledge from the oil and drilling industry may be used in the future to capture geothermal energy," they conclude.