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New Geothermal Data System Could Open Up Clean-Energy Reserves:
Geologic data does not come cheap, especially when you are using it to build a multimillion-dollar geothermal power plant. Just ask Susan Petty, president and chief technology officer at AltaRock Energy. Her company is part of a $43.8-million pilot project to tap thermal energy from Oregon’s Newberry Volcano . Engineers are injecting water deep underground to fracture superheated rocks and create a geothermal reservoir. Their eventual goal is to recirculate pressurized steam back to the surface to test a new kind of technology called an enhanced geothermal system (EGS) . Unlike conventional power plants that rely on near-surface hydrothermal systems like springs and geysers, EGS can draw energy up to depths of three to five kilometers. Over the next 50 years, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates, EGS power plants could produce 100 gigawatts of economically viable geothermal energy , an amount equivalent to about 10 percent of the country’s current electrical capacity.
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