Geothermal’s Big Break

March 25, 2010 • Daily Email Recap

Geothermal energy usually gets relegated to the back burner in a myriad of alternative energy choices. In the past few years, we’ve seen hybrid cars become trendy, ethanol’s fate rise and then fall, and a rather heated debate on the merits of clean coal. Now, it seems, geothermal energy may be emerging as practical source of clean energy. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are making leaps and bounds on extracting energy from low-temperature geothermal sources. The lab is receiving $1.2 million as a part of the Department of Energy grants for renewable energy.

The new method, which is safer and more economically feasible than previous procedures, would generate electricity with virtually no pollution. “By the end of the calendar year, we plan to have a functioning bench-top prototype generating electricity,” said Pete McGrail, a scientist working on the project. “If successful, enhanced geothermal systems like this could become an important energy source.”

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