The experts who have helped establish a global reliance on oil and wasted billions of dollars trying to turn corn into gas, have now turned their attention to nature’s biggest natural power generators. Volcanoes and hot springs could supply up to 25-percent of America’s power needs–and as fuel prices soar, Alaskan officials announced the exploration of the state’s volcanoes.
Companies are being invited to lease the rights to explore geothermal resources beneath Mount Spurr, a snowcapped 11,070-foot volcano that most recently erupted in 1992, showering much of Anchorage with volcanic ash. The state Division of Oil and Gas hopes the lease sale, due to go ahead in August, will be the first of many. It is also considering allowing exploration of the 4,134-foot Augustine Volcano, 171 miles southwest of Anchorage.
The move echoes a trend underway across much of the US as fuel prices, worries about dependence on foreign oil and climate change trigger a surge in geothermal projects, particularly in the West and along the Gulf Coast. As well as Alaska, geothermal projects, which are eligible for tax benefits, are underway in most Western states and across the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida.
Everyone guesses that we could easily achieve a substantial amount–20 to 25-percent–of US energy needs within a few decades, but US public policy doesn’t allow for this kind of exploration. Even if it did, I am sure some company would buy the rights to it and block any real growth for decades. There are studies that showed around 200 million acres of public land with geothermal potential.
Geothermal power is also enjoying a renaissance in Europe, home to the first geothermal steam power plant in Larderello, Italy, which began operating in 1904. The GEA estimates that the number of countries producing geothermal energy will more than double by 2010 to 46 countries.
It is amazing how we can find ways to create energy sources, but with the current trending of companies literally buying natural resource areas, could this lead to companies buying volcanoes? British Petroleum (BP) has already said that they would invest in a large geothermal infrastructure – which sounds like code for “will buy volcano.”
This kind of sh** makes for great headlines, but I honestly think we are half a century away from any geothermal power being utilized in the US.
That sucks for us.