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Squeezing Energy from A Rock

New geothermal approaches bring massive resources within reach.

Fortnightly Magazine - December 2008

committed to a green profile., for example, recently began investing an earmarked $10 million in EGS, including funding for Southern Methodist University’s resource definition work and for a start-up drilling company.

“I think there will be more investment over the next couple of years, but who knows what the tipper will be,” says David D. Blackwell, a professor at SMU’s Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in Dallas, which has taken a lead in U.S. geothermal mapping. “It probably will be just having the knowledge that low-temperature geothermal works; that’s why we’ve been trying to get information out on areas beyond the West.”

The anticipated success of the first few commercial-scale, low-temperature geothermal projects over the coming months might send a seismic signal that geothermal power’s potential is about to explode. “There’s a renaissance going on in people’s thinking about how to work with this geothermal resource,” Gawell says. “Low-temperature, small turbines are shaking people up.”