January 20, 2009
The Earth has radius of some 6,400 km, and when we drill down we can use the hot water that rises to run a steam turbine – around 10,000 MW of geothermal power is generated this way worldwide. Drill down deeper, and the available energy is enormous.
In January 2007, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a study looking at the potential energy 6 to 10 km down into granite, where the temperature reaches 400 C. Their findings are quite stunning.
For an investment of $1 billion we could produce 100,000 MW of power by 2050. Exxon Mobil made $39.5 billion profit in 2006, so $1 billion is 9 days profit for one oil company.
They estimated the total resource to be 130,000 times larger and the extractable portion 2,000 times larger than the total annual consumption of primary energy in the USA; similar data shows up for Europe and Australia.
Vinod Khosla, a top investor who is very alert to the dangers of climate change, is backing its potential, alongside solar thermal power, and so is Google’s new renewable energy investment project. We need a concerted global investment effort to develop the technology in a greatly accelerated manner.
First published in EcoNews: A monthly newsletter funded by your donations that dreams of a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community, and the joys of personal fulfillment, guided and protected by our active citizenship.