The Cornwall-based company Geothermal Engineering is pushing forward with its very interesting idea to ‘recycle’ used and exhausted fracking (hydraulic fracturing) wells from the oil and gas industries as geothermal power sources, according to recent reports.
To be specific, Geothermal Engineering will be using old wells drilled by the fracking company Cuadrilla. As determined by a recently signed memorandum of understanding between the two companies, the Cornish company will be designing a system that could potentially deliver both shale gas and also ‘renewable’ geothermal heat.
The development of that system will partly be financed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Energy Entrepreneurs’ Fund — to the tune of £55,000 — following on the successful completion + demonstration of field trials in 2014.
I don’t want to call the idea/technology ‘greenwashing’ because I think that there’s certainly some potential there, but I always do wonder about things like this. Is improving the public image of a practice as destructive and polluting (and arguably stupid, when considering clean water supplies, amongst other things) really a good idea?
That said… geothermal energy power plants have relatively high upfront costs (especially as compared against solar photovoltaic projects), and an approach using wells drilled for other purposes previously could be a rather more economic approach to further utilize this clean energy source. In some areas of the world at any rate — such as the UK.
The managing director of Geothermal Engineering, Ryan Law, noted that the scheme could go far toward the reduction of the costs associated with geothermal heat projects. “The possibility of using existing wells enables us to not only deliver renewable geothermal heat at a much lower cost but also to recycle wells that would otherwise be wasted.”
Hmmm. What do our readers think? Is making the most out of a bad situation (fracking) a good thing? Or does the partial legitimization of that bad situation outweigh the good that comes with reusing the fracked (f*c!<ëd) wells?
Image Credit: Geothermal Engineering