Geothermal’s Methane Challenge

September 1, 2022

Geothermal energy is a wild card, and potential game changing technology in the coming decade – as advanced drilling techniques pioneered by the fracking industry make possible wells at a depth unthought of 20 years ago.

But Geothermal has a challenge in that any drilling thru deep layers can often encounter methane bearing rock, and while technologies to avoid releases are available, they must be conscientiously applied.

Tony Ingraffea PhD is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus and a Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University.

I’ve been talking to a lot of methane experts lately, covering not just the Arctic, but planet wide. It’s a huge topic, but look for more Yale Climate Connections videos on this in coming weeks.

2 Responses to “Geothermal’s Methane Challenge”

  1. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    A imperfect system that is net positives is still worthwhile.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Go for the lowest-hanging fruit first: Some places are geologically advantageous for large-scale geothermal, as with having a magma chamber “close” to the surface, and therefore not have to drill very far to get very hot rock to make steam to drive your turbine. Better yet if there is brine down there to transfer the heat more rapidly than solid rock.

      Then there’s the shallow geothermal for heat-pump HVAC, for which there are plenty of places with minimal methane issues. Towns located on shallow shale beds or other methane-confining rock are just out of luck, and should rely on other energy options.


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