National Parks or Energy: Kenya’s Dilemma

by Jessie Capper

According to a recent report released by the International Energy Agency’s ‘Africa Energy Outlook,’ unreliable power supply has been a persistent problem in African countries. The IEA claims that by addressing this uncertainty, African governments help increase investment in their respective country’s power sector, and ultimately boost their GDP by an estimated $15 (International Energy Association 2014). Kenya continues to address its problems with efficient, reliable, and high-cost energy through the pursuit of renewable energy sources—varying from solar and wind power, to hydropower, and geothermal energy. Although Kenya’s energy initiatives are progressive and admirable, there is rising concern over detrimental side effects, especially to the national parks. Continue reading

Iceland’s Deep Drilling Geothermal Energy Project

 

by Shannon O’Neill

Iceland’s unique geology has made it a prime region for the development of geothermal energy. Specifically, the Reykjane Peninsula, located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge on the southwestern coast and the home of four volcanoes, is a prime region for such development. Its volcanic geology provides geothermal pools that are heated by the steam and magma deep below the service. Geothermal wells harvest the heat from the pools to power turbines, providing one hundred megawatts of power, enough to power thousands of homes in the region. Iceland is powered almost solely on renewable energy resources, with geothermal energy contributing to a fourth of such resources. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Electricity From Low-Level Heat

by Emil Morhardt

Low-level heat—temperatures 100­–200°C above ambient, the temperature range of a kitchen oven more-or-less—are abundant in the exhausts of all sorts of industrial processes from drying biomass to operating internal combustion engines. They are also much more common in geothermal fields than the higher temperatures needed for traditional geothermal steam power generation, although low-level heat can be used to vaporize high-volatility organic compounds such as propane, which can then power a turbine much as steam would. For the most part, though, this heat is wasted, just released into the environment; but it needn’t be. Researchers at the China University of Geosciences in Beijing and at Stanford University experimented with an array of commercially available thermoelectric power generators (TEGs) Continue reading