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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

5-25-2010 (Tuesday)

"I want to say one word to you. Just one word."
The Graduate

If you are not aware of this by now. I live in the Pacific Northwest. In Oregon to be exact. I mentioned last week the anniversary of the MT ST. Helens eruption well that isn't the only active volcano in the Pacific Northwest.

That graphic above from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows the volcanic eruptions in the last 4000 years in the part of the country that I live in. As you can see there appears to be a fair amount of seismic activity. My question, for the big brains amongst my readers, is why do we in the Pacific Northwest not use more thermal energy. Below is what I found from the state of Oregon website

"The city of Klamath Falls uses geothermal energy directly to supply heat for a district heating system. Geothermal heat sources in several other Oregon counties supply heat to buildings, swimming pools and resorts and industrial uses.

There is no generation of electricity from geothermal sources within the state of Oregon. However, there are several sites where geological data suggest a resource sufficient for power generation may exist. The potential for production of electricity from Oregon´s geothermal resources has been explored at three sites in Oregon.

In 1996, CalEnergy Company received a site certificate from the Energy Facility Siting Council to build a 30-megawatt geothermal power plant near the Newberry Volcanic Monument in Deschutes County. However, despite considerable investment in exploratory drilling, the company did not find a source of heat and steam sufficient for generating electricity. The company canceled the Newberry project and is now pursuing a similar project in northern California.

Other exploration has occurred near Vale and in the Alvord Dessert near Borax Lake. The latter site is no longer feasible due to the risk of harm to the endangered Borax Lake chub. The exploration at the Vale site failed to locate a geothermal source adequate for generating electricity.

Resource uncertainty as well as high development and exploration costs are substantial barriers to future development of geothermal sources for power production. The location of potential geothermal sources in environmentally sensitive areas has been a barrier to siting geothermal power facilities in the state."

That pretty much answered my question but I also wonder if we should be pursuing this more then we are despite the cost of it. I know that part of the reason I like the idea is because it just sounds so cool to me. I like the idea of Oregon getting a good chunk of its energy from geothermal. I am also a big fan of Hydroelectric as well. So any thoughts folks on why we are not looking even deeper into this?
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