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Senator Inhofe Gets DOE Funds to Change his Mind

Recovery Act stimulus funding for a technology that will make geothermal power available in every state is being invested in Senator Inhofe’s Oklahoma by the Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Program, in a $3 million R&D program to increase the volume of hot rock from which heat can be extracted.


Solutions will be found to:

1. Reduce costs for drilling and well completion and

2. Increase the volume of hot rock from which heat can be extracted.

The Recovery Act stimulus funds is providing $2,399,999 to the Oklahoma project, and a company from out of state;  Impact Technologies will put up the other $600,000 of the funding, and a patent-pending system for drilling and completing micro-holes into deep 300°C geothermal reservoir rocks.

The idea is to develop a cost-effective micro-hole drilling optimized to maximize the efficiency of fluid circulation and heat removal for Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), which is a form of deep geothermal that is just being developed. They will test and fine tune the company’s patent-pending technology to solve the technical problems of EGS.

Why invest the stimulus funds in Oklahoma? Because solving these two problems makes EGS a 50 state solution for renewable energy. EGS holds the promise of being available everywhere, even in states that have been led to fear  that they have no renewable resources.

Demonstrating that they do have resources, and that they can be a part of the new renewable energy economy is key to getting Senate support for renewable energy legislation that is crucial to saving the world from a climate catastrophe that is completely unprecedented in at least 200,000 years of human history.

Technology is only half the obstacle. The other half is the fear and resistance by those with no experience in renewable energies, who fear that without fossil fuels, the US would have no energy supplies.

If  Oklahoma could make cheap renewable electricity, we might be able to continue world civilization a few more centuries, rather than succumb to a new dark ages.

For that reason, investing in Oklahoma, the home of Senator Inhofe, the leader of the anti renewable energy forces in the Senate, will help to reduce the fear and hatred of change. Thus, the Oklahoma effort is as much an education program for Senator Inhofe, as it is a R&D program to solve a few mere technical issues.

The choice of a geothermal project rather than a solar or wind project is some clever strategery on the part of the Obama administration. That’s because Senator Inhofe once showed a glimmering of support for geothermal ground heat exchange pumps that reduce home electricity use, renewably. Not to the extent of actually voting for the final bill (homeowners installing geothermal heat exchange systems also qualify for the 30% tax credit like home solar and wind), but at least issuing press releases in support of it.

To help with the education effort is the Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Rock Mechanics & Explosives Research Laboratory, Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Inhofe’s opinion of  the Recovery Act stimulus that will provide the funds was that “We need to stop the job killing agenda.

Image: Flikr user gamene

Source: EERE

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