Tuesday, May 29, 2018

USA, Hawaii: GRC Member Answers Questions on Situation at Puna Geothermal Venture

Geothermal at the foot of Kilauea (Stanford Earth)

Geothermal engineer and GRC Board Member Roland Horne discusses geothermal energy in the face of natural hazards and a way to tap the earth’s heat far from volcanoes in the future.

Local authorities warned that if lava were to reach a well at the Puna Geothermal Venture plant, hydrogen sulfide could be released. Where would that come from?
The source of hydrogen sulfide gas is the volcano itself. In normal operation, steam and hot water circulate through the plant and are reinjected without being released to the atmosphere. However, a breach of an unprotected well could allow the release of the volcano’s gases from the wells.

Would you have any reservations about siting a geothermal plant around a highly active volcano?
Not really. Geothermal plants work best where it’s hot, so a volcano is kind of a good place to put them. And many natural disasters affect power plants. Here in California, fires in 2015 burned cooling towers at the Geysers complex, the world’s largest geothermal facility. In the Philippines, the typhoon that wiped out Tacloban city in 2013 took out three geothermal plants. Blew the cooling towers away.

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