Most geothermal developments use natural hot spring areas, but a new method may have great promise and danger-

Geothermal energy is regarded as a quasi renewable energy source because it does not use fossil fuels, uses the natural heat of the earth, and can be turned into clean electricity or for lower temperature sources for space heating by circulation of warm water. Iceland has made great strides in geothermal development.

However, hot spring areas do not occur everywhere, their useful life for geothermal energy is limited in time, and unique natural and scenic features are often destroyed in development.

As a result, developers want to drill deeper using the natural heat gradient of the Earth. The easiest way to do this is down a fault which provides a natural crack often leading to heat. Of course, faults are the cause and the result of earthquakes. Lubricating the fault with water seems a bit scary, but surprisingly a program is underway with more coming Idaho, Nevada, and California.

Deep in Bedrock, Clean Energy and Quake Fears. By James Glanz. New York Times.

My photo of an abandoned geothermal well in Raft River Valley, Idaho.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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