July 09, 2007

Geothermal energy, its rocks

With the exception of the hot springs in Bath, the only hot springs in the country, I didn't thing that there was much geothermal potential in the UK. We are just to far from a plate boundary to be able to get at large chunk of our energy needs from this reliable non-polluting energy source. There are a few schemes and the one that brought it to my attention was the Southampton geothermal energy scheme. This is not a renewable energy source but rather mining a hot aquifer that has been kept warm because it is insulated by the rocks above it. The aquifer has no way of replenishing its energy and because of this any one bore hole will eventually run out of heat and another have to be built but in the mean time it does provide a very good energy source in the few areas where it is possible.

Unfortunately there isn't much of the UK that is suitable even for tapping this limited form of geothermal energy. via L'Ombre de l'Olivier comes an article from the USA Today about a new type of battery that could help to smooth over the lumpy nature of other renewable electricity production systems. Large arrays would store electricity when it is cheap to release it later when it is in greater demand. Up till now the only practical way of doing this would be a pumped storage hydroelectric system, conventional batteries did not have the durability to store enough energy to make them practical in this application, as every time a battery cycles from full to empty it looses some of its capacity. The new system is more robust and has greater energy density helping to overcome these problems. It might even be able to help overcome the unreliable nature of wind power and make it a more useful energy source.


Blogger Unknown said...

Fantastic info...I have been very interested in thermal energy as of late, especially after Gov. Schwarzenegger formed a bill into law that set a CO2 limit on coal plants as a future source of electricity in the West Coast market. This is a good (early) time for geothermal energy production.

I would also recommend this report to everyone...

Geothermal Energy Special Report


6:58 pm  
Blogger chris said...

California has much better sources of Geothermal energy to play than the UK has being on a major plate boundry, You lot should be able to tap into the real deal rather than the hot aquifers that we have to settle with. I'll have a read of that report later.

8:55 pm  

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