Geothermal Energy Research Expanded As NZ Drought Continues

photo by: nivedita kashyap via flickr

Chalk it up to coincidence? New Zealand is on the verge of a power crisis (though prime minister Helen Clark won't call it an actual emergency) and NZ$2.6 million (US$1.97 million) is awarded to GNS Science to carry out research on the potential of geothermal energy in the Pacific island nation.Hydroelectric Running Dry
Some background for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere: New Zealand has been experiencing drier than normal conditions for the past two years. This would be serious in any nation, but is even more so for New Zealand, which generates 75% of its electricity through hydroelectric dams. Due to the lack of rain this percentage has been reduced to 50% in recent weeks. Fossil fuel sources are strained in taking up the slack. Unless "significant" rainfall comes soon residents will be asked to voluntarily reduced their electric usage by 15%, energy minister David Parker said.

Geothermal grant for GNS Science
Enter GNS Science, which has been awarded a sizable grant to study low temperature geothermal energy over the next three years. Low temperature? Where your average geothermal energy plant might use water in the 200°C range, low temperature geothermal uses heat sources which are generally less than 150°C, and in some cases as low as 80°C.

According to GNS, "Low temperature geothermal resources are widespread throughout New Zealand and there is significant potential to increase there use."

While this research will do little to alleviate NZ's current electric crunch, it could go a long way towards diversifying its electric generation portfolio. Wise energy policy regardless of source and all the more so given the low carbon emissions of geothermal.

via :: The New Zealand Herald and :: The Guardian

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Tags: Alternative Energy | Drought | New Zealand

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