AltaRock’s Enhanced Geothermal Systems

by Ali Siddiqui

In Bloomberg magazine, there was just an exciting article by Adam Aston, Pete Engardio, and Joel Makower (Executive Editor, Greenbiz.com) that provided a list of 25 companies to watch in the energy technology sector. Their list is interesting because its selection criteria made sure to include companies that were actually selling their newly innovative products in the market, were not publicly listed, often unheard of, and had large sums of financial backing from high profile venture capitalists or companies. Within this list was one particularly fascinating company named AltaRock Energy, Inc. founded and headquartered in Seattle, Washington, whose new approach to extracting geothermal energy may change the landscape of the energy sector.

AltaRock’s goals are to not only promote the increasing use of geothermal energy by building geothermal energy plants, but also to use it’s team, technology, and approach to turn under performing assets into high profitable energy projects. They are able to accomplish these goals with an interesting new technology known as Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). Currently natural extraction of geothermal power requires the use of high temperature permeable rock with naturally occurring water circulation at depth, which is not only finite and rare, but also carries a heavy cost and high risk for failure when drilling begins. AltaRock’s EGS create artificial geothermal reservoirs by using hydraulic pressure to create a small network of fractures in the rock below that allow the rock to act as a radiator increasing permeability and circulation. This will make geothermal extraction less costly, more successful, and more available. While this sounds similar to fracking, the difference stems from the pressure used to fracture the rock. EGS maintains a lower pressure by utilizing a process known as hydroshearing. They are able to seal fractured zones from one another in order to maintain the network, as well as maximize circulation and heat, providing them a superior system for extracting energy.

This company is currently managing over 40,000 acres of land located on the western bank of the Newberry Volcano in Central Oregon administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in order to carry out studies for how successful their system will be. Smart energy investors should pay attention.

 

Aston, Adam, Engardio, Peter, Makower, Joel. 25 Companies to watch in Energy Tech. Bloomberg. January 26th 2017. http://www.bloomberg.com/ss/09/07/0714_sustainable_planet/1.htm

Altarock.com (http://altarockenergy.com/technology/enhanced-geothermal-systems/).

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