Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “geothermal”

Geothermal Lithium

[] – Simplified overview on planned Lithium production from geothermal operations
[] – Lithium start-up backed by Bill Gates seeks a breakthrough at the Salton Sea
[] – Lithium will fuel the clean energy boom. This company may have a breakthrough
[] – Salton Sea

Germany Taps Its Geothermal Potential

Ventilators side-view

In 2015, the citizens of Holzkirchen, Bavaria-Germany, decided 17-8 to build a geothermal heat & power station.

  • Investment: 40 million euro.
  • Operational: early 2019.
  • Hot water production rate at 150C: 50 liter/s, from 2 wells at a depth of 5000 m.
  • Power generation: 3.4 MW, organic Rankin cycle.
  • Electricity guaranteed for 20 years at 25 cent/kWh.
  • Yearly income: 6 million euro.
  • Payback time investment: 20 years, after that “free clean energy”.
  • Balance heat-electricity generation is not fixed but adjustable.
  • Many say: better this than ever more wind turbines.

The operation now works successful and ambition is growing to expand to other municipalities. It looks like Holzkirchen just created yet another renewable energy option, apart from solar, wind, biomass and hydro. Holzkirchen is already thinking of drilling a third borehole. Expect this example to have many followers.

[] – Geothermie, project stite
[] – Aiming for Climate Targets, Germany Taps Its Geothermal Potential
[] – Geothermie Holzkirchen: Neue Bohrung mit neuen Partnern?
[] – Geothermie ab sofort in Betrieb
[] – Geothermie Holzkirchen: Neue Bohrung mit neuen Partnern?
[] – Organic Rankine cycle

1. Heat generation, heat exchangers. Oil & gas backup present
2. Cooling
3. Well and pump, 550m below the surface
4. Turbine generating electricity, pumped in the grid for 25 cent/kWh
5. Control center

Read more…

Wire Up Geothermal Heat With Graphene

Two Russian scientists discovered that graphene can have exceptionally large thermal conductivity, up to 5300 W/(m.K), something like 12,000 times better than copper and got rewarded with the Nobel Prize in 2010. Watch the video below showing how you can cut though ice with a graphene blade, using heat from your fingers. The Manoj Bhargava Indian billionaire thinks that graphene (carbon) cables could revolutionize how we extract heat from geothermal wells and distribute heat and invests in the technology. The idea is to abandon the concept of geothermal heat transfer through fluid motion, and instead use thermal conductivity of graphene to bring heat to the surface of the earth via wires, without moving material, pumps and pipes.

[] – Manoj Bhargava
[] – Physicists show unlimited heat conduction in graphene
[] – Graphene
[] – Could a new approach to thermal conductivity revolutionise geothermal?
[] – Thanks to Graphene, We May Harness The “Limitless Energy” Beneath Earth’s Surface
[] – Graphene thermal conductivity

Geothermal Energy in the Netherlands


[] – Dutch government overview of geothermal projects in the Netherlands
[] – Geothermal Energy

Dandelion – Google Spin-off Moving into Geothermal Energy

A Google offshoot called Dandelion will begin to promote geothermal energy for residential heating and cooling in the NE-United States. Motivation: 39% of CO2 emissions come from buildings, so here is a vast potential to bring these emissions down. “Geothermal” in this context means draining heat from low depths using u-shaped plastic pipes, buried in a back yard and use it as an input for a heat pumps. For this purpose a drilling method was developed to minimize the cost of installing the pipes.

Dandelion is seeking to cooperate with specialized installation companies and offer a financial package to homeowners, with monthly expenses lower than the common fossil fuel bill, without a down-payment. Typical cost picture: investment sum $20-25k or $160-180/month over 20 years, substituting $35k of 20 year oil cost and 110 ton CO2. For propane consumers, saving would amount to $63k/130 ton CO2 over 20 years.

[] – Introducing Dandelion
[] – Dandelion: an audacious and radical geothermal energy startup?
[] – Google, Dandelion Geothermal, and the Thermal Energy IoT
[] – Alphabet’s moonshot factory just launched a geothermal energy start-up
[] – Dandelion official site

Read more…

Geothermal Energy in The Netherlands

49 companies in the vegetable, plant and flower-growing industry in the Westland area in The Netherlands are drilling for geothermal energy to a depth of four kilometres. The actual first drilling is to be started during Q4-2017 and will last 100 days, just like the second drilling. Activities are mainly carried out by VB Geo Projects, KCA Deutag and Schlumberger. Production of warm water is expected to begin in the Summer of 2018. Record drilling depth so far in The Netherlands was 2.5 km. The 49 participating companies have committed themselves to be the customers of the produced warm water.

[] – Rapid development of geothermal energy in The Netherlands
[] – Project site
[] – Westland (Nederlandse streek)
[] – Trias Westland kan van start
[] – Officiële start geothermieproject Trias Westland

The remarkable growth of geothermal energy in The Netherlands has everything to do with the presence of large-scale greenhouse agriculture, an ideal application for geothermal energy.

[source] “Glazen Stad” (Glass Town). the endless green houses behind the dikes and between Rotterdam and The Hague.

How it Works: Geothermal Electricity

[] – Geothermal energy

Smurfit Kappa – Radical Recycling in the Paper Industry

Paper-mill Smurfit-Kappa in Roermond, the Netherlands, wants to replace the role of natural gas with “green heat”. The paper industry is doing fine, not because of digitization of society (“paperless office”), but because retail is going online and now everything needs to be packaged, in carton, which is good news for Smurfit Kappa.

Every day no less than 110 trucks arrive at the mill to dump their load of used paper for recycling into “mother roles” of 18,000 kilo each, a process that takes 8 days. Usually paper that lands in the trash can is converted into new paper in a matter of 6 weeks.

For the production process you need a lot of warm water to produce “paper soup”. The company is thinking of pumping up hot water from a depth of no less than 7 km. Alternatively, the company is investigating the possibilities of producing paper without so much hot water. Paper recycling still requires 10% new wood, for quality reasons, acquired from Scandinavia and France.

[] – Smurfit Kappa Group
[] – Papierfabriek zoekt groene warmte

Dutch Volcano To Produce Geothermal Energy

Artist impression of non-existing above-ground Dutch volcano.

Until recently the Dutch public was not aware of the fact that The Netherlands harbored a true volcano on it’s territory, or rather under its territory, at a depth of 2 km, which explains this seemingly remarkable geographical ignorance.

This could change though as plans have emerged to use geothermal energy from the volcano, at a temperature of 140 degrees Celcius, 30 dgrees more than usual at those depths, to provide energy for the nearby island of Terschelling.

According to the plan, Terschelling is to become independent of gas and electricity from the mainland by 2020.

zuidwalvulkaan[source] Location Zuidwal-volcano

[] – Geothermie Terschelling

Private Geothermal Energy

Nice animation of how a private garden can be used to extract thermal energy from the soil for space heating purposes.

Iceland Pushes Geothermal Energy Use In Japan

A Japanese macaque swims in a geothermal hot spring in the mountains of Japan. ow ironic that Stefan Larus Stefansson, Ambassador of Iceland to Japan, needs to tell the Japanese how big their potential for geothermal energy actually is, using his own country as an illustration. Interesting detail: most of the geothermal turbines operational in Iceland were made in Japan. 66% of the energy in Iceland comes from geothermal sources. Japan in contrast, despite having the world’s third-largest potential for geothermal energy, built its last geothermal energy plant in 1999, and all research funding from the government ceased in 2003, when the japanese government decided to put most of its cards on nuclear energy. Effectively Japan could replace 25 nuclear power stations with geothermal energy. 92 percent of houses in Iceland are heated by geothermal hot water, and heating prices are the lowest in Northern Europe.


20 GW Geothermal Potential In Japan

Since the Fukushima desaster Japan is looking for alternative ways of generating energy for its economy. Geothermal energy definately is a candidate. Japan has the third largest reserves after Indonesia and the US. Currently Japan generates 535MW of geothermal energy, the eighth producer in the world. That’s 0.2% of Japan’s total output.

[wikipedia – geothermal in Japan]

Read more…

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.


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