Today’s LA Times has an article on a controversy over Medicine Lake, which is in a geothermally active area in northern California. Calpine is looking into constructing some geothermal generation plants, but local Native Americans worry that this use of the lake will sap it of its cleansing properties and traditional spiritual energy. It will be very interesting to see how this unfolds, and how they resolve the conflicting uses of these resources. The article makes a point that resonates with my prior post:
Calpine’s armada of new plants fired by natural gas remain susceptible to the price swings of a fickle market for fossil fuels. In contrast, power from a geothermal plant comes with no cost for fuel–and produces 26 times less greenhouse gas. Mother Earth does all the work: Deep pockets of subterranean water are superheated by magma, producing steam to turn turbines.
Geothermal is likely to be more costly than fossil fuel generation per megawatt hour for a while yet, because while there is no fuel cost it does not generate power as intensely or as consistently, but it would be useful in enabling the diversification strategy.