Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Neglected Piece of the Answer

As many environmental leaders have said, there is no silver bullet to eliminate human civilization-sourced carbon emission -- but there are silver buckshot. Besides saving birds and environmentalism, solar rooftops and ugly windmills, one overlooked, underplayed and misunderstood silver buckshot is the heat of the earth itself.

Electricity, by its nature, is "non-polluting". Electricity can power practically all civilization's power-needy tasks for food production and preparation, manufacturing, heating, cooling, light, transport and transportation -- at virtually any scale.

Creating steam and spinning a turbine generator is how we produce most electricity. Fossil- and nuclear-fueled regional power plants as well as deep geothermal ones use the same conceptual plant design. Unlike the others, however, geothermal depends on a non-polluting & unlimited "commodity" -- constant & uninterruptible heat -- that lies within 10 miles of everywhere on Earth.

After it's built, a geothermal plant sits directly above its source of power (and in some design models, at its depth). Geothermal electricity production requires no negative externalities -- commodity mining, refining, storage, transport, carbon pollution and waste and the infrastructure to support them. None! Geothermal already works beautifully where the heat's close to the surface.

The biggest barrier to developing geothermal in a market economy, of course, is blind acceptance of pricing, trading and using commodities without consideration for their negative impacts on the climate. Returns from fair pricing and elimination of subsidies to the commodities industries themselves could easily finance required research & engineering. Over the next 30 years, sourcing and applying geothermal -- would eliminate dramatically more carbon than most other silver buckshot.

No comments: