Out in California the Green Crowd is excited about generating electricity from geothermal sources – using hot subsurface conditions to create electric power.
But, these interesting efforts have run into a real world snag.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers on line IEEE Journal edition reports, “In the American Southwest, the Energy Problem is Water.”
Very simply, the geothermal field in Southern California needs water to generate electricity, and there isn’t enough of the liquid stuff around. In addition, competition for the water that is available comes from California’s rich produce farms along the Colorado River.
Further tapping into the Colorado could bring on some interesting environmental problems. As the Salton Sea, into which the Colorado eventually flows, dries up, there are fears that severe dust storms could be triggered. That dust will contain nasty material like selenium and sodium sulfate, which are not kind to the human body. Taking more water from the Colorado River to generate electricity could turn the geothermal generation area into a hazardous location for both the electricity generating machinery involved and the workers who would operate it.
So, here is another Green idea that’s not panning out too well in practice.
We better keep our coal options up. It beats breathing selenium.
The article doesn’t mention it, but I can envision another potential threat. Tapping into deep underground heat sources could eventually result in cooling of that underground region. When things get cooler, they generally contract. Since this area is on or near a major fault line, changing the deep underground support strata by accelerated cooling might just trigger a really “Big One.” Who knows?