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Deschutes Forest project could make geothermal energy affordable

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Friday, June 08, 2012

Seattle-based AltaRock Energy is beginning a $43.8 million geothermal project in the Deschutes National Forest.

The demonstration project is a first-of-its kind application of a technology known as Engineered Geothermal Systems or EGS. While EGS has been tried worldwide and is successful, the Newberry demonstration will involve stacking multiple water-cycling reservoirs in a single geothermal project for the first time, a prospect that allows for development in drier conditions and also increases production, making geothermal more commercially viable.

The Newberry demonstration is years from becoming a working power plant and, if developed, would be small. But success at Newberry would greatly broaden the possibilities of geothermal development in the United States. That is because EGS systems can be located almost anywhere there is hot rock within 2 miles of the surface. That’s important, because traditional geothermal projects are currently located near geysers, hot springs and other sensitive hydrothermal reservoirs that are in limited supply and often found in places where the scenery — consider Yellowstone Park’s famous geysers — precludes development.

Read more at Sustainable Business Oregon.

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