Is Geothermal Electricity Coming Soon to a Grid Near You?

Here is a debate on the future of geothermal energy between Tom Rand and I, televised by Business News Network on a show hosted by Paul Waldie of the Globe and Mail earlier today. Tom Rand assures the audience that geothermal power and heating are mature, cost effective technologies about the transform the supply of energy.

Examples of geothermal energy companies getting hammered in the markets in recent years include Raser Technologies which recently collapsed in bankruptcy, Ram Power, Nevada Geothermal, and Ormat.

Post Script: Recent news from the Yukon capital, Yellowknife suggests that the potential for geothermal heating is limited in Canada. Yellowknife is perhaps Canada’s best candidate for geothermal heating. The city is located in a harsh northern climate with a very long and extremely cold winter season. The urban heating market is large and stable. The local geology has some of the hottest rock in Canada near the surface. The alternative sources of heat are costly — trucked in diesel, electricity or wood. There is no access to natural gas in the city. An abandoned gold mine located 1 km from the downtown has deep shafts with ambient temperatures of approximately 30 degrees C. News reports indicate that the city is still seeking federal government subsidies to make a geothermal district heating scheme viable.

Post Script (Jan 25, 2013): Another reality check on Tom Rand’s credibility, here is an update on production troubles at Ormat.

Post Script (Nov. 2014) BNN has taken down the video but here is a written summary of the debate: http://www.borealisgeopower.com/news/details/bnn-hosts-geothermal-power-debate-with-tom-rand-tom-adams/

Post Script (Oct 2016) Looks like www.borealisgeopower.com has taken down the debate summary.

More on the failure of Yellowknife to get geothermal heating working: http://www.nnsl.com/frames/newspapers/2014-11/nov12_14geo.html

Here is a note on Australia’s failure to make geothermal power viable: http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-30/geothermal-power-plant-closes-deemed-not-financially-viable/7798962?pfmredir=sm

One Comment

  1. > Examples of geothermal energy companies getting hammered in the markets in recent years

    That seems a bit one-sided. We, of course, hear about it when a company fails. We don’t, however, hear about it when a company *doesn’t* fail.

    Don’t get me wrong, the market for this stuff seems pretty limited. But to dismiss it out of hand because of a few failures in the middle of a massive meltdown doesn’t seem particularly cogent.

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