Observing the world of renewable energy and sustainable living

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Retrieving geothermal energy from vulcanoes

A volcano in Oregon is going to be used in a demonstration project for applying geothermal energy. Steam will be produced at great depths and used to generate electricity. The heat is there, open question though is whether it will be possible to establish a circulation of water in the system. Engineers are working on a new technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). Wells are going to be drilled deep into the rock, water will be pumped in and steam will return. Some concerns regarding artificial earth quakes exist. Additionally it is difficult to scale the technology. Two small EGS plants already exist in Germany and France. Participants are DoE and Google, amongst others. EGS is attractive because it vastly expands the potential for geothermal power. Currently geothermal sources are used to generate 0.3% of the electricity in the US. EGS could bump this to 10% in 50 years time. A 2008 USGS assessment found EGS throughout the West, where hot rocks are closer to the surface than in the East, has the potential to produce half the country’s electricity.


Booming Mongolia

[Maps courtesy of used with permission]

Mongolia is being dug up and sold to China. Already, more than 80% of its exports are minerals, a proportion expected to rise in a few years to 95%. Mongolia makes mining geologists salivate over its known riches and unexplored potential—for copper, coal, gold, silver, uranium, molybdenum, and on and on. With just under 3m people, Mongolia has a chance of becoming a Qatar or a Brunei: a country that has only a small population but almost all of it, in global terms, loaded. In the third quarter of 2011 Mongolia’s economy grew by 21% compared with the same period in 2010. Even sober economists think the country is going to have to get used to this sort of thing. The IMF expects growth to average 14% a year between 2012 and 2016.


Seabed gas solves all our energy problems?

Scientists have found vast amounts of natural gas frozen into the seabed, potentially containing more energy than all the world’s known coal, oil and gas reserves combined.

[The Australian]

Peak-Oil is a myth according to Eric Peters

In real terms oil costs as much as it did in 1980. The commodity itself has not increased much in actual cost despite the passage of 32 years, despite the much-ballyhooed uptick in global demand and in spite of the alleged and endlessly imminent bogeyman of “peak oil.” If the world was really running out of oil – or within sight of running out – the actual cost of the end product, gasoline, would be going up in real terms. Dramatically so. So how come the real price of gas is about the same now as it was 32 years ago? The reason should be obvious: We have plenty of oil. Enough oil not merely to meet current demand, but foreseeable future demand.

Which means, we’ve been scammed.

Vestas takes a dive

Danish wind-turbine maker announced plans for 2,335 layoffs worldwide, reducing the total workforce to 20,400 people. Vestas is caught between low-cost competition from China and declining European subsidies for alternative energy. Worldwide, renewable-energy companies are reeling from overcapacity and plunging prices caused by an explosion in manufacturing and competition from low-cost producers in China and other countries. The main pain will be in Denmark, where 1,300 employees will go.


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