The East Coast, which is geologically quiet, has always been a geothermal dud. So it was a big surprise back in 2007 when an MIT report identified the Conway area as the one spot east of the Mississippi where true geothermal might be financially feasible – not due to underground magma, but to natural radiation from New Hampshire’s signature stone.
“That’s because of all the granite you have. The uranium, thorium and potassium act like a natural nuclear reactor and keep the rock warm,” Ron DiPippo, a former dean of engineering who was on the panel that wrote the report, said in an interview back then.
He also reminisced about how, during the 1970s oil shocks, “hot, dry rock” experiment was planned for Conway to determine the suitability of geothermal power. But oil prices went down and the panic subsided, so the study was canceled and we were left ignorant – as is too often the case with alternative energy research.
In 2011, a new analysis of the nation’s geothermal prospects once again showed Conway as the Northeast’s one bright spot (quite literally, when looking at the map on Google Earth software).