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AltaRock predictions for U.S. EGS development

Alexander Richter 24 Feb 2009

Interview of SolveClimate with Susan Petty of U.S. based Alta Rock Energy, Inc., the President/ CTO and founder of Alta Rock gives her insight into the industry and the development of EGS in the U.S., as well as the activities of the company itself.

In an interesting interview of Matthew Dakotah (SolveClimate) with Susan Petty of U.S. based Alta Rock Energy, Inc., the  President/ CTO and founder of Alta Rock gives her insight into the industry and the development of EGS in the U.S., as well as the activities of the company itself.

Alta Rock plans to launch a first U.S. demonstration of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) in The Geysers region of California. Susan Petty talks about the demo project there and describes it as “an active geothermal field where they are producing geothermal power today. Our plan is to go beneath The Geysers – to drill down deeper than where they produce fluid from right now and to inject cold fluid into the rock, fracture it, and then drill a production well into those fractures and circulate. This would be into rock that is not producing now and would be significantly deeper than the current production.”

She continues to argue that using the existing infrastructure is of benefit for the project, as “There is a supply of water to use for the fracturing and there are existing power plants that aren’t producing at their full capacity.”

But while being optimistic, she also stays realistic about competitive issues in relation to other energy sources, e.g. natural gas. As long as resource prices stay low, it will be more difficult for EGS to compete on price alone. Furthermore, she continues, it is “not just competing with coal or natural gas or whatever. We’re competing with utilities that want to own that resource–that power plant–themselves.”

There is also one point mentioned and that is the need for federally funded research, which could – according to Susan Petty – “speed up the process.”

Without going into too much more detail of the interview, it is also interesting to state that she talks about capital cost, while geothermal is “cheap to run”, “it costs a lot up front.” “So the issue here is we need to have access to capital, and it would be great if it were at low interest.

Because of this lack of access to capital, developers with good projects are taking loans right now to get new projects built that are just ridiculously expensive and having a really big impact on the viability of the project.” So the interview continues talking about carbon pricing and European feed-in-tariffs as tools to help renewable energy project development.

Overall a very insightful interview worth reading.

Soruce: SolveClimate.com