First, read the 2 articles below. Then, complete the following. Read the questions carefully.
1. Write a formal, sentence outline for your synthesis essay described in Question
2. Use correct and appropriate formatting as discussed in the course. (5%)
2. Write an argumentative synthesis essay of the texts below (following the format presented in the course) in response to the following question:
Should government subsidize infrastructure for a thermal power grid to provide renewable energy?
For this essay, you are required to make an argument on this issue in response to this question. Be sure to organize your synthesis clearly and correctly, choose appropriate support material from the texts, and use correct academic style. You need to include a reference page (just include one at the end of the synthesis), and all quotes and paraphrases must be appropriately documented in your essay using APA style in-text citations. (15%)
Hot rocks and high hopes. (2010) Economist, 396, 8698.
Over the course of the next ten years a company called Geodynamics, based in Queensland, Australia, is planning to drill as many as 90 wells, each 4,500-5,000 meters deep, in the Cooper Basin, a desert region in South Australia with large energy reserves. However, the company is not drilling for oil or gas. It is looking for an energy source that is far cleaner and more abundant than any fossil fuel: heat emanating from hot rocks deep beneath the Earth's surface, a promising emerging form of geothermal energy. Conventional geothermal power exploits naturally occurring pockets of steam or hot water, close to the Earth's surface, to generate electricity. (Heat from the water is used to boil a fluid and drive a steam turbine connected to a generator.) Because such conditions are rare, the majority of today's geothermal power plants are located in rift zones or volcanically active parts of the world. In Iceland, around one-quarter of the country's electricity is produced by geothermal power stations; at the Svartsengi power station, the naturally occurring hot water also flows into a lagoon, which is a popular (and photogenic) bathing spot.
Geothermal power stations can also be found along the -Ring of Fire- around the Pacific, in Indonesia, the Philippines and on America's west coast. Conventional geothermal power stations worldwide have a total capacity of 10.7 gigawatts (GW) and will generate
67.2 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy this year--enough to supply power to more than
52.5m people in 24 countries, according to America's Geothermal Energy Association.
Engineered geothermal systems (EGS) are based on a related principle, but they work even in parts of the world that are not volcanically active, by drilling thousands of meters underground to mimic the design of natural steam or hot-water reservoirs. Wells are bored and pathways are created inside hot rocks, into which cold water is injected. The water heats up as it circulates and is then brought back to the surface, where the heat is extracted to generate electricity. Because the Earth gets hotter the deeper you drill, EGS could expand the reach of geothermal power enormously and provide access to a virtually inexhaustible energy resource.
At the moment only a few EGS plants exist worldwide, including a pilot plant in Soultz, France, and a small commercial plant in Landau, Germany. But Geodynamics and other companies around the world are hoping to change that. Over the next decade
Geodynamics plans to build ten 50 megawatt (MW) power stations in Cooper Basin, and that may just be the beginning. According to Doone Wyborn, the company's chief scientist, the area's resources could support hundreds of power stations with a total generating capacity of up to 12.5GW--more than all the geothermal power stations now operating worldwide. There are also plans for new EGS projects in America, Britain, France and Germany. Those in the field have high hopes for future expansion: the International Geothermal Association predicts that there will be 160GW of geothermal capacity installed worldwide by 2050, about half of which will be EGS.
Like other forms of renewable energy, geothermal power produces little or no carbon dioxide, but unlike other forms of renewable energy, such as solar or wind power, it has the further advantage that it can provide steady, predictable electricity, all day and all night. This makes it particularly appealing to utilities.
These benefits, in combination with growing electricity use worldwide, concerns about limited supplies of fossil fuels, and efforts to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and prevent climate change, have prompted governments and investors to pour money into this emerging technology. Google, for example, has invested more than $10m in two EGS companies in California, Potter Drilling and AltaRock Energy. Meanwhile America's Department of Energy has announced up to $338m in stimulus funds for 123 geothermal projects, with nearly $133m earmarked for EGS research.
As you go deeper, temperatures go up--but so do costs. The equipment on the surface costs about the same for EGS as it does for conventional geothermal power, but the drilling costs can be twice as much or more for EGS. Dr. Wyborn estimates that electricity from EGS could initially cost an additional $0.09/kWh over conventional geothermal, or about $0.19/kWh. That would make EGS economic only in places with strong financial incentives, such as Germany, where operators of renewable-energy projects receive generous subsidies in the form of feed-in tariffs--currently $0.31/kWh for power from EGS.
But unexpected problems can pop up. In April 2009 Geodynamics was ready to commission a pilot plant when the steel casing of a well cracked, causing uncontrolled flow of water out of the well. An independent investigation determined that the problem could be avoided in the future by choosing a different type of well casing. Geodynamics has announced that it will drill two new wells. Its 1MW pilot plant is now scheduled to come online in early 2012, followed by a 25MW commercial demonstration plant three years later.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle that will prevent EGS from spreading is its propensity to cause noticeable earthquakes that frighten people. Earthquakes are in fact a requirement for the technology to work. In order to prop open or enlarge existing cracks and fractures, water is injected into boreholes at high pressure, causing small tremors. -There's no doubt that what you do when you fracture rock causes seismicity,- says Susan Petty, president and chief technology officer of AltaRock. -But the goal is to have those events be so tiny that people can't feel them.- Most earthquakes created by EGS are indeed too small to be felt, but a few have caused damage to property. One project in Basel, Switzerland, was shut down because of a 3.4-magnitude earthquake in December 2006 that scared residents and cracked buildings. Earthquakes of a similar magnitude have also been reported from projects in Australia, Germany and France.
However, man-made earthquakes are not unique to EGS; they also occur as a result of oil-and-gas drilling, and damming and mining operations. The question is whether they can be controlled. Ernie Majer, a seismologist and deputy director of the Earth Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who is working on refining EGS seismicity guidelines for America's Department of Energy, believes they can. -With proper study and implementation, you can guarantee that there won't be big ones,- says Dr Majer, who sees small quakes as a nuisance rather than a danger. Still, many in the industry agree that EGS should be developed in remote areas first, rather than in densely populated cities such as Basel.
AltaRock also encountered drilling problems in 2009, when it made three attempts to redrill a well for a demonstration project at The Geysers. It eventually abandoned that effort after the drilling assembly repeatedly got stuck due to the hole collapsing. Along with its partner, Davenport Newberry, it now plans to demonstrate its technology at another site near Bend, Oregon, a project for which it was awarded $21.5m in stimulus funds by America's Department of Energy.
Balat, M., Balat, H., & Faiz, U. (2009). Utilization of Geothermal Energy for Sustainable Global Development. Energy Sources Part B: Economics, Planning & Policy, 4(3), 295-309.
In the beginning of this new century, the rational use of energy becomes a keyword for the world sustainable development both in developed and developing countries (Marechal et al., 2005). The demand for energy is increasing at an exponential rate due to the exponential growth of the world population. This, combined with the widespread depletion of fossil fuels and gradually emerging consciousness about environmental degradation, suggests that the energy supply in the future has to come from renewable sources of energy (Demirbas et al., 2004; Balat, 2007). Geothermal resources have the potential of contributing significantly to sustainable energy use in many parts of the world. Geothermal energy is a renewable, environmentally friendly energy source based on the internal heat of the Earth. It may be associated with volcanic activity, hot crust at depth in tectonically active areas, or permeable sedimentary layers at great depth (Axelsson et al., 2004). On the worldwide basis, geothermal energy is considered to have the largest technical potential of the renewable energy sources. Furthermore, the production price of geothermal energy is favorable as compared to all other energy sources (Stefansson, 2002). The ultimate source of geothermal energy is the immense heat stored within the earth.
Geothermal energy is clean, cheap, and renewable, and can be utilized in various forms such as space heating and domestic hot water supply, carbon dioxide and dry-ice production process, heat pumps, greenhouse heating, swimming and balneology (therapeutic baths), industrial processes, and electricity generation (Demirbas, 2006). Geothermal energy has been used commercially for about one century and its large scale utilization started about 40 years ago, both for electricity generation and for direct application as space heating and in combination with heat pumps (Ortiz and Roth, 2005). Heat pumps can be used in low-temperature geothermal heating schemes to generally boost the heat output of the fluid, but their particular role in any specific scheme will depend upon the temperature of the fluids, which are being used (Hepbasli and Gunerhan, 2000).
Direct use of geothermal resources has expanded rapidly in the last 36 years from space heating of single buildings to district heating, greenhouse heating, industrial usage, modern balneology, and physical treatment facilities (Gokcen et al., 2003). The technology, reliability, economics, and environmental acceptability of direct use of geothermal energy have been demonstrated throughout the world (Demirbas, 2006). The United States is the largest geothermal electricity producer in the world, although the share of geothermal in the country’s total electricity is very small, followed by the Philippines, where its contribution to the electricity mix is substantial (Balat, 2005). New entries among the geothermal electricity community are Austria, Germany, and Papua New Guinea. Plants from Argentina and Greece have been indefinitely dismantled
(Luketina, 2005). Geothermal electric power plants are located in California, Nevada,
Utah, and Hawaii. The two largest concentrations of plants are at The Geysers in northern
California and the Imperial Valley in southern California. The latest development at The Geysers, due to recent declines in steam output, is the injection of recycled wastewater from two communities into the reservoir (Lund, 2003).
There are nine states with projects currently under development, including: Alaska,
Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah (GEA, 2006). The Philippines was the world’s second-largest producer of geothermal electricity in 2005, behind the United States (Bertani, 2006). The government has set a goal of increasing geothermal electricity within a decade, which would make the Philippines the largest geothermal energy producer, surpassing the United States (EIA, 2006a). The geothermal heat pump industry has become quite dynamic in recent years. About half of the existing geothermal heat capacity exists as geothermal heat pumps, also called ground source heat pumps. These are increasingly used for heating and cooling buildings, with nearly 2 million heat pumps used in over 30 countries, mostly in Europe and the United States (REN21, 2005). There are several dozen European manufacturers, the largest of which are found in the principal markets of Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, and France. The market is becoming controlled more and more by large industrial groups that are buying out specialized geothermal heat pump companies (REN21, 2006). They were growing at an annual rate of 15%, with over 600,000 units installed in the United States. New installations were occurring at a rate of 50,000 to 60,000 per year—the largest growth in the world for geothermal heat pumps (Kagel, 2006).
The demand for energy is increasing at an exponential rate due to the exponential growth of the world population. Worldwide, the contribution of geothermal to total electricity generated is less than half of one percent. The United States is the largest geothermal electricity producer in the world.