Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Halifax Herald, Geothermal Energy

Since returning to my home town of Halifax, I've been stuck with the local paper, the Halifax Herald. This paper is no NY Times or Toronto Star, but I've been slowly warming up to it (eventual pun intended).

This week, the Herald has featured alternative sources of energy, particularly renewable sources. Tuesday's feature was wind power, and Wednesday's was solar power. Today's feature is on the potential of geothermal energy in Nova Scotia, and the companies tapping in to it (pun intended).

Interestingly, the Herald also has an editorial in today's edition about how much longer we can burn oil and gas, and the timeline isn't looking good.

On a somewhat related note, I found a site that breaks down the basics of Iceland's incredible use of geothermal energy (and it is hosted in Nova Scotia, too, in an odd coincidence).


Blogger Mike said...

Your blog never ceases to amaze me. The stuff on the cormorants was a great piece (although cormorants are ugly, noisy, and their shit DOES stink) and I was surprised at how much background you put into this stuff. I am coming around to your ideas and am starting to believe that this is not a passing fad with you.

Geothermal is a great alternative to heating and cooling. I avoid trying to debunk this one because it is a slam dunk.

Being the devil's advocate that I am....

Is the earth's geothermal energy a resource? Does it not belong to the people of earth? Shouldn't the profits (or cost savings) of this natural resource, which is non renewable in my mind, be spread evenly to the general population? What happens when we all use geothermal? Will the earth not cool (even a little)? How many degrees is acceptable before we declare a moratorium on geothermal drilling? Can I now go and drill geothermal wells in the NAWR? Does this allow you to condone mining because a lot of geothermal energy is drawn from underground mines? If Halliburton was assisting in geothermal energy production, would you get off my back?

My friend, I know these are all ridiculous questions, but give some thought to them. Geothermal energy is a relatively infinite resource. But it is still a resource extracted from the earth. A lot of the questions I have posed are flips of those you have posed to me in the past.

One last thing...

From your linked article:

"It also allowed us, because it was so environmentally friendly, to begin manufacturing plastic containers, like ice-cream tubs, for the dairy industry."

because it was so environmentally friendly… plastic?… dairy industry?…. All of this in the same sentence.

Oh the irony!

PS. Please feel free to delete this post if you find it undermines (pun intended) the seriousness of your content.

12:57 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:57 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Didn't Dave Ohara's ex-girlfriend Jeneane have a driveway in manor park that would melt snow in the winter time from geothermal heat? They had a borehole drilled to a few hundred feet or something like that under their driveway.

For the record. Since geothermal energy is an infinite source then it wouldn't be considered "raping" the earth. I also don't see how Halliburton contributes to geothermal energy production.

4:29 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I posted that article mainly to give the Herald some love. The article was found in the business section, hence the cost savings spin in the piece. Both of those articles left a lot to be desired. Not great writing.

It's my understanding that the amount of geothermal energy we draw from the underground is infitessimal compared to the actual amount of heat energy the earth creates. Therefore, as per what we know today, we are not having an impact on the eath's internal heat generation system. Iceland's 50 or so years of tapping into to geothermal without any adverse affects indicates this, as well.

Of course, back in the 1700s, when we started the industrial revolution, we had no idea we'd be impacting climate like we are today. So today we know that burning fossil fuels is bad, but we don't know if geothermal energy is bad, and we think it is probably good. Let's switch over as much production to geothermal as we can.

It is also my understanding that geothermal wells are far less obtrusive than standard mines that are then converted to geothermal. You guys are the mining bosses, you tell me. I also don't know if I'm anti-mining, by the way. I do know, however, that it is raping the earth, and that there are few, if any, things that we do to defile it more than mining. I also think we wouldn't need to do near the amount of mining we do now if we all just changed our ways and became a little more like Mark.

Dude, if you can drop a geothermal well into the ANWR that doesn't affect environment, habitat, and migration patterns of the species that live there, then let's do it.

As for the natural resource thing and who owns it, a lot of my thinking along those lines comes from wondering about land ownership. Who owns the land? Is it the people who got there first? Is it the people who took the land by force? Or is it the government of the place that had its borders defined by lines drawn on a map? Or maybe it belongs to the people who make the most profit off of it? Or maybe the people who wish to take care of it the most?

The whole concept of land ownership, in my mind, is messed up. And so when we've got subsidiaries of North American companies owning land in developing nations, I don't believe those companies will act in the best interest of that land and the people who actually live on it. At some point soon I'm going to blog on Oxfam, who have done a lot of research into this whole foreign land ownership thing.

My thoughts on this topic are far from refined, but I just have an uneasy feeling about these situations.

And Mike, I haven't been on your back about Halliburton in at least a week. Keep this up, though, and I'll be on it again like a baby monkey on a momma monkey's back. Or something like that. Bad analogy.

PS - yea, the part about plastics and dairy was pretty funny.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

A person can own the land but not the mineral/natural resource rights under it.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I have little time here as I have to be on a drilling rig in a few minutes, so if my grammar and spelling are horrible... think of it as a code. If you can understand what I am trying to type, congratulations! You ave cracked the code. I was going to call it the Mulrooney Code, but I won't.

Anyway. I said that I know all of my questions were stupid... get off my back.

Halliburton contrubutes as much to geothermal producing wells as they do oil/gas. We cement them and stimulate them. No drilling, no producing.

I have heard the story about the geothermal driveway. It is right around the corner from my parents, and I don't remember ever seeing it full of snow. Who knows. I will ask them.

Jason is right (sort of). In some countries, the mineral rights are owned by the landowner. And in some, they only own the land above the reserves.

I mistakenly typed NAWR instead of ANWR.

If the earth's core freezes, I blame you.

I love baby monkeys!

Gotta go... the US thirst for gasoline is calling.


12:02 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Thanks for the info on land ownership and resource rights.

What I meant by all my questions is that I don't know who should own the land. It's a strange thing to grant a person sole ownership of a piece of the earth.

12:59 PM  

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