Geothermal – good news for Cornwall
We hear today that our home region of Cornwall U.K is going to be generating geothermal power via a 3 miles deep hole drilled into the hot granite rocks below – whereby water forced down is heated and hot water/steam is ejected to power steam turbines for electricity generation.
Any engineering challenge such as this is a great endeavour and should be admired – however, whilst the national news is claiming a triumph for ‘renewable power’ – I would like to question this – as it is often considered that both geothermal and nuclear are classified under this category. In my opinion, this is NOT correct on a number of levels but the most important difference with geothermal and nuclear power – and why they should NOT be classed as ‘renewables’ is because these processes involve moving or creating heat from an underground source and expelling them into the atmosphere which may be renewable in terms of the energy source, but is not sustainable and therefore renewable in the long term because of the heating effect.
Now this may not sound particularly exciting – but let us not lose sight of the fact that whilst the major problem with burning fossil fuels has been considered to be the emission of ‘greenhouse gasses’ – the ‘actual problem’ is ‘global warming’. Now, obviously fossil fuel burning creates both greenhouse gasses AND heat, and therefore is a double whammy – but please let us also remember that any creation or movement of heat from ‘below ground’ sources to the atmosphere is also going to contribute to global warming – albeit without the additional emission of greenhouse gasses.
Now, I don’t wish to appear to be damning of either geothermal or nuclear power – but the scientific and engineering establishment need to be more aware and honest when explaining these processes to the uninitiated general public and certainly need to stop considering geothermal and nuclear as ‘renewables’.
To be clear – the task of reducing the effects of global warming is immense and at present ANY process that impacts less than the burning of fossil fuels is beneficial – but ultimately the focus of science, engineering and finance should really go into implementing existing and developing new ‘true renewable’ power sources and storage.
At Water Powered Technologies we understand the potential of utilising and storing water for a variety of applications and realise the true value of this much underestimated and underutilised resource. Unlike the complexity of much ‘modern’ technology – we also like to keep things simple so they can be repaired rather than discarded – as the hidden environmental costs of obsolescence are much higher than the initial ‘price tag’ denotes.
Phil Selwyn (Founder/Technical Director)
Water Powered Technologies – www.waterpoweredtechnologies.com – email@example.com