Geothermal Energy: The Journey to the Center of the Girth… :)

4 Aug

Man, this building a home out of 40′ ISBUs (shipping containers) is getting harder and harder!

I crawled out of my cave today, and looked at the sky. For several days in a row, we’ve been plagued by lighting, thunder, and downpours that last just long enough to turn the place into a sauna, and make you want to crawl into your bed and pull the covers up over your head.

The power’s gone out several times, the cable is looking like those scrambled images you looked at, as a kid, fighting eyestrain while you stared into the tube trying to see anything that looked like “nakedness” (remember scrambled porn channels? Admit it! I’m not the only one who did that! Am I? Um… er…  oh, never mind!), and the big oak tree in the church parking lot lot next door got a kiss from Gawd’s fireworks, and it’s now looking like some kind of demented twisted twin Oak mutation.

Incredible. Speaking of stuff that ends with “credible”…

In order to host a “credible blog,” I’ve become aware that you have to actually possess credibility.


So, in keeping with the theme of the day (Credibility… aren’t you paying attention? Sheesh!) 🙂 I thought I’d list my title so that you can see how credible I is…

I’m currently deployed, um…er… employed, in a job that pays exactly what I’m worth.

I got me a title, I do…

I’m the “Involuntary Second Assistant to the Assistant Manager, in charge of the department of certain things that nobody else gives a great big “Gawd Dang It!” about…”

Remember that Paypal donation button way over there to the right? PULLLLELASE! We’re starving! 🙂

And, I’ll have you know that I didn’t “volunteer” for the job! Only suckers volunteer for anything! The last time I did that, I got married to a crazy Indian bent on scalping Jews… 🙂

Oy Freakin Vey! I miss my hair… 😉

So, obviously… one of the things I’m in charge of… is spouting off about hot air. After all, I got me a title, so that makes me an expert, right? 🙂

Last time we talked (um…er… chatted… um… okay, you CAN read, right?)… 🙂

We were talking about living in a steel box, and ways to control the temperature. And, I was going on and on about how I’m using Geothermal HVAC to heat and cool the “hot box” we’re building.

Geothermal Energy is simply heat or coolant (thermal) derived from the earth (geo). It is the thermal energy contained in the rock and fluid (that fills the fractures and pores within the rock) in the earth’s crust.

Guys like Burkland (a noted scientist from the 70’s) have been doing calculations that demonstrate that the earth, originating from a completely molten state, would have cooled and become completely solid many thousands of years ago without an energy input in addition to that of the sun. It is believed that the ultimate source of geothermal energy is radioactive decay occurring deep within the earth.

Wait a sec’, and let me grab my “professor hat…”

Time for the Science lesson; Run for your lives! 🙂

Some wise guy, paid to know better, with a bunch of alphabet soup after his name, said: “In most areas of the earth, this geothermal heat reaches the surface in a very diffused state. However, due to a variety of geological processes, some areas, including substantial portions of many western states in the United States are underlain by relatively shallow geothermal resources.”

Who said it? Hell, I don’t know,  I fell asleep after “In most areas of…”!! Your guess is as good as mine! 🙂

But, it’s true. For example, I used to live in the Pacific Northwest, on 15 glorious acres by a serene little river that sat in the middle of nowhere. All around us, there were Geothermal Hot Springs, and we exploited them to bathe in, provide heat and hot water for our houses, and we even built a cooker/poacher using them.

Why did I ever leave? Um… not many girls… When you’re a dork like moi, you need a much larger pond to fish in… 🙂

Anyway, most of these resources can be classified as low temperature (less than 90°C or 194°F), moderate temperature (90°C – 150°C or 194 – 302°F), and high temperature (greater than 150°C or 302°F). Why classify them at all? Well, the uses to which these resources are applied are also influenced by temperature.

The highest temperature resources are generally used only for electric power generation. Current U.S. geothermal electric power generation totals approximately 2200 MW or about the same as four large nuclear power plants.

Uses for low and moderate temperature resources can be divided into two categories: direct use and ground-source heat pumps.

Direct use, as the name implies, involves using the heat in the water directly (without a heat pump or power plant) for such things as heating of buildings, industrial processes, greenhouses, aquaculture (growing of fish) and resorts.

That’s what WE did. And, there were no moving parts! No maintenance, and lots of time to fish and garden… Yippee… But, not many girls… Argh!  Noticing a trend yet? 🙂

Direct use projects generally use resource temperatures between 38°C (100°F) to 149°C (300°F). According to statistics, current U.S. installed capacity of direct use systems totals 470 MW or enough to heat 40,000 average-sized houses.

Ground-source heat pumps use the earth or groundwater as a heat source in winter and a heat sink in summer. Using resource temperatures of 4°C (40°F) to 38°C (100°F), the heat pump, a device which moves heat from one place to another, transfers heat from the soil to the house in winter and from the house to the soil in summer. Accurate data isn’t readily available on the current number of these systems; however, the rate of installation is thought to be between 10,000 and 40,000 per year. And that number is growing fast.

End of Science Lesson.

See, it didn’t hurt, much.

(Now… I took a couple of Advil’s while I typed it, but for you… just some minor eyestrain, so stop your complaining! Man, what a bunch of whiners!) 🙂

When you mention Geothermal anything, the very first thing that people ask, is:

“How in the heck can you afford it?”

I suspect that they envision something that resembles “A Journey to the Center of the Earth,” with Brendan Fraser solving all your problems heroically, using “Hollywood tricks.”

(Frankly, I preferred the original version, but I’m not exactly a Spring Chicken. Actually, to be truthful, the heroine was much more attractive.)

Here’s some facts to dispel the myths, and help you convince your significant other that you haven’t lost your mind…. again!

How much can you save in energy costs with a geothermal system?

New York
Standard Geoexchange System $583 $797 $1,179 $1,062
Standard Air Source Heat Pump $826 $1,109 $2,059 $1,541
Standard Gas Furnace / Electric Air Conditioning $686 $860 $1,377 $1,138
Electric Resistance / Std Air Conditioning $1,196 $1,317 $2,945 $2,352

Who (besides ME) Says Geothermal Energy is the Best Choice?

Geothermal energy has already been recognized as the single most efficient and greenest heating/cooling method by people who are paid to know, in places like government and private sectors.

Now, I know that you’re suspicious of anything that comes from “Obamanation,” that tells you it’s the best way… but… Get used to it. It’s the same as when the intel came from Bushland, or the Clinton Conspiracy, or even the Nixon Nightmare… Just do your homework, and then decide for yourself.:)

Here’s what the U.S. Department of Energy says about Geothermal

Click here!

And here’s what the guys and gals at Energy Star are saying;

Click here!

EnergyStar has even compiled a listing of approved geothermal products, and you can get that PDF here:

Click Here!

The Department of Energy Consumer’s Energy Guide even has data on geothermal systems and ROI (return on investment);

Click here!

And if you want more stuff to talk about over the dinner table, instead of a heated discussion about your Mother-In-Law coming to visit for a “weekend” that actually lasts a week… again…;

You can talk about the EPA’s State and Local Climate Change program (PDF):

You know the drill… Click Here!

This handy-dandy info source is focused on helping you to take advantage of the high energy efficiency and low environmental impact of geothermal systems.

And there are many, many Consumer, industry, and scientific organizations jumping on the bandwagon;

The California-based Consumer Energy Center praises versatile geothermal energy.

I’d think any information based body from California would be falling on it’s own swords right about now, as Arnold tries to “Terminate” the naysayers to his “bailout budget” but try this link (if California can still afford bandwidth!)…

Click Here! You’ll be baaaaaack! 🙂

The copy writers and braggarts at the GeoThermal Energy Association discuss the benefits of renewable geothermal energy.

Why? Can you say “Buy My Products.” Oh wait, that’s the guy from those learn it on CD things… Anyway, try here:

Click Here!

And if all this information hasn’t got your head spinning, then you can find out what the Union of Concerned Scientists has to say. Even major energy producers (power plants) recognize geothermal energy advantages  as a renewable source of power.

Click here, but I warn you, it’s a big file.

Okay, so you’ll spend the next several hours reading up on Geothermal Science.

You will right? After all, remember, I trap your IP addresses. If you don’t… well, let’s just say that there’s a smoking pile of dog poop on your front porch, in your near future… 🙂

After doing your homework, and waving a fistful of data sheets in the air as you debate Geothermal with your “spouse…” You know what’s gonna happen, right?

They’ll just look at you, with a blank stare, and say; “So what? What do other people who actually USE Geothermal say?”

And you can scream; “AH- HA! Here’s the answer right here!” as you fling printouts up in the air gleefully!

(Hey, works for ME!) 🙂

It appears that over 90% of people and corporations using geothermal systems would recommend installing one in your home. That’s reflected in a number of online users’ and owners’ forums, including GeoExchange, which you can find…

Yeah, yeah… just shaddup and click here! Sheesh… you’re a bunch of sissies! 🙂

It’s a great place to find no-nonsense answers and information about Geothermal, from people actually using it.

But I’m guessing that you think installing a Geothermal system is like building a Nuclear Powerplant, right? Nope. Here’s a look at how one of them did it;

Next time, (now that you’re armed with enough facts to completely cloud the issue) we’ll tackle the specifics of Geothermal, and start laying out a “real” system. 🙂

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin


6 Responses to “Geothermal Energy: The Journey to the Center of the Girth… :)”

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  1. Water, water, everywhere… « The Life and Times of a Renaissance Ronin - September 28, 2009

    […] We’ve been talking about Geothermal Energy, and how you slap a harness on it. […]

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