Anything is possible (in some places)

The Institute for Local Self Reliance based in Minneapolis, USA has just produced an interesting map of the United States suggesting that 31 of the 50 states can be self sufficient for electricity if using only in state, renewable resources. Only 5 states were at 30% or less. The map makes an interesting point- while not likely, or in some occasions the best, overall economic solution, it is feasible for most US States to be able to adhere to more modest renewable energy portfolio requirements. If technology continues to improve the economics in the future, this percent of renewable requirements could increase to satisfy energy loads.

Non-Americans may find this interesting as the geography of the US is almost as varied as that of the world. The map also suggests that some areas are renewable resource poor, and will need alternative plans if they intend to clean up generation. See the link to read about the study and its assumptions.

RE Map

RE Potential for the US


AltaRock suspends test project

On 2 Sep 2009, geothermal startup AltaRock Energy said it has suspended drilling at its demonstration project in California due to geologic anomalies. The startup said it encountered a number of physical difficulties at the site while drilling its first well.

However, the company said it will keep developing its engineered geothermal systems (EGS) technology and is evaluating alternative well locations, both at the Geysers, a site north of San Francisco, and elsewhere. The news comes as a blow to AltaRock’s demonstration project, which is backed by $6.24 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Energy, with the possibility of $2.76 million more.

In 2008, AltaRock raised $26.25 million from (which contributed $6.25 million), Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Advanced Technology Ventures and Vulcan Capital.

Cleantech Group reports “Today’s problem isn’t the first controversy to stem from the project. In June, The New York Times raised questions about the Geysers project, comparing it to an effort in Basel, Switzerland, that some scientists say caused a large earthquake, followed by thousands of small quakes. Both projects aimed to fracture rock deep underground to generate steam, but AltaRock disputes the similarities of the projects.”

After the New York Times report, the DOE and Bureau of Land Management informed AltraRock that it would not be allowed to fracture rock until the department completed a new review of whether the project would be safe. The company was allowed to keep drilling, however, down toward the depth at which it would begin the fracturing. The review, which likely to be released within few weeks, is expected to compare the Basel and California projects and determine whether AltraRock’s effort is safe.

AltaRock suspends drilling at DOE-backed project
Google-backed geothermal company suspends test project

See the New York Times reports:
Deep in Bedrock, Clean Energy and Quake Fears
Drilling Ordeals Said to Delay Geothermal Project