Summary-AVID Article Format
- Clean Energy from Filthy Water
- The city of Santa Rosa and Calpine Co. are partnered to produce energy from recycled wastewater
- 12 million gal. of wastewater is pumped into hot aquifers, which generate steam and energy in a plant
- Residents still complain about shaking, but the technique could supply 10% of all electricity in the future
- Santa Rosa's depleting geysers were repurposed to generate needed energy and eliminate wastewater problem
- Calpine partnership solved all problems by reallocating wastewater to where it was needed
- Fumeroles (magma heating rock layer) found in 1847, named "geysers", first geothermal plant in 1921 and Calpine in 1989, 21 geyser plants operational
- Excess pumping caused reservoirs to run dry, challenges development of plants
- Earthquakes and disturbances also apparent 20 miles away due to steam and drilling, 2,562 separate jolts
- Causes damages totaling in the millions, and drilling by AltaRock can also cause damage through rock contraction and layer deformation
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2 billion pounds a year, hoping to expand practice in future; but AltaRock is inhibiting growth
- Inspiration still stands and pumping wastewater is a viable option to sites that lack supply of water
The fossil fuel industry is now the last concern that environmentalists are looking for, now that new alternative energy sources are surfacing to cater to the public's energy and ecological needs. A prime example is geothermal energy, which harnesses the power of a deep rock layer known as the fumerole, which is heated by magma that settles under it. Pumping wastewater into this fumerole can generate steam, which can be used by a nearby power plant for energy. This energy source isn't perfect, however. Tremors have been reported in the area due to steam and contraction of the deep rock layer. Despite these trade-offs, scientists hope that methods such as this one will become more popular.
This method, in my opinion, is a very good example of harnessing the elements to supply citizens with relatively clean energy. If this is popularized and refined into a safer method (preventing the tremors in pumping and steam), then I can see this energy source being widespread in places that do not have a water source nearby. I do, however, wonder if this method decreases the structural integrity of the rock layer, like what fracking does to shale. What kind of negative effects are present besides tremors? Is there a reason why this isn't widespread?