Hydraulic fracturing is most well known in the natural gas arena, however one company is hoping to change that. Using an existing well that had become unproductive, high-pressure water, 800psi to 1000psi, was injected to fracture the rocks with a hope of allowing enough water to circulate in order to make the process economically feasible.
The process was a success, bringing the flow from 4 gallons per minute to 1600 gallons per minute. This one well alone added 1.7 megawatts of generation capacity to the Desert Peak project in Nevada.
According to the USGS the United States potentially has 500 to 1000 gigawatts of geothermal generating capacity. Paul Thompson of Ormat, the company that manages the project, says “If we can go to all the hundreds or thousands of wells that are unproductive and tinker with them to make them productive, this is a game changer,” because drilling a new costs between $4 and $7 million dollars, while this enhanced geothermal process costs significantly less.
Photo: United States Department of Energy
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