The Age of Sustainability — Issue #10 — Geothermal Rocks

Denis Pombriant
3 min readJun 10, 2021

Okay, we did batteries last time and you all did very well indeed.

As I’ve noted before this newsletter is about the how of solving climate change. We can talk all we want about limiting emissions but we also have to have ways to replace the polluting technology with something better.

Here’s something better.

Time to think about baseload power. Baseload is the minimum we need to keep the lights on, literally. You’ve already heard of peakload which you might associate with the maximum demand in the afternoon on a hot summer day when you really don’t want to contemplate a power outage. Baseload keeps the pork chops solid in the freezer at night when they’re the last thing on your mind.

We get baseload power right now by burning things to boil water to spin turbines that make electricity. There are lots of problems with this even if pollution and global warming are not ideas you mess with.

You see, when you burn something, say, coal, about two-thirds of the energy in the coal goes up the smokestack. another 15 percent or so goes to overcoming the friction of the power lines (called resistance) that deliver the power to your home. Only about 20 percent of the original energy goes to power the computer you are reading this on.

Now imagine how inefficient it is to boil water on an electric stove.

Yikes!

In contrast, geothermal energy comes out of the ground as superheated steam so piping it into a power station can generate lots more power more efficiently that fossil fuels.

Nobody wants to talk about this though. Instead they point out how nuclear power with its radioactive waste problem is the future. Those same people used to talk about “clean coal.” As if.

Last point, geothermal energy doesn’t have to be used exclusively to generate power. All over the world people are using the heat energy for, well, heat.

Bath England got its name from the Romans who couldn’t believe their good fortune to have found hot water in god forsaken Britain, back in the day. Being Romans they immediately built Roman baths in Bath and that’s the story up to this moment. Scandinavian countries are taking the idea further with zone heating. There’s more below.

Start with this. You can get geothermal energy almost anywhere, even in Britain. This…

--

--

Denis Pombriant

Researcher, author of multiple books including “The Age of Sustainability” about solutions for climate change. Technology, business, economics.