The following is from the Jan. 22, 2007, edition of Environment News Service.

Geothermal Heat Mining Promises
Abundant, Cheap Energy

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (ENS) - Mining the heat that resides as stored energy in the Earth's hard rock crust beneath the United States could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the country will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact, new research shows.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the study is the first in 30 years to take a new look at geothermal energy, a source that has been largely ignored.

"We've determined that heat mining can be economical in the short term, based on a global analysis of existing geothermal systems, an assessment of the total U.S. resource, and continuing improvements in deep-drilling and reservoir stimulation technology," said Jefferson Tester. The professor of chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology headed the 18 member international panel that prepared the study. . .

Panel member David Blackwell, professor of geophysics at Southern Methodist University in Texas, points out that geothermal resources are available nationwide, although the highest-grade sites are in western states, where hot rocks are closer to the surface, requiring less drilling and producing the energy at lower cost.

The environmental impacts of geothermal development are "markedly lower than conventional fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants," the panel concluded.

Read the full story.

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