Enhanced Geothermal Systems could become important in low-carbon economy

The transition from grey energy, like oil, gas and coal, to renewable green energy is not an easy one. Many new renewable energy sources can’t generate electricity at high efficiencies yet, and nuclear power isn’t a very good first option either.

The Obama Administration hopes enhanced geothermal systems will play a major role in the president’s goal for 80% clean energy by 2035. Enhanced Geothermal Systems also has the potential to bridge the divide between renewable energy and fossil fuels by employing the same hydraulic fracturing technology that has been controversial in extracting oil and gas from shale formations.

The American president has requested $61.5 million, which is 60% of all geothermal program funds in the U.S. Department of Energy, for Enhanced Geothermal System research in 2012. The Department of Energy believes that enhanced geothermal systems have enormous potential to provide renewable baseload energy to heat and power homes and businesses.

Meanwhile, in Australia the government and geothermal industry have already spent hundreds of millions in Enhanced Geothermal Systems proof-of-concept projects. Geodynamics, an Australian company, plans to begin producing power at a 50-MW Enhanced Geothermal System plant next year.