Skip to main content
Photo by Devon Hawkins @thelifeofdev

We come across a number of questions when we talk about Geothermal Energy

As an Icelander, it's hard to imagine (having relied on the clean power of Geothermal Energy all of my life) that people might be skeptical and unwilling to immediately embrace the amazing upgrade to ones lifestyle and livability Geothermal Energy creates.

But then again, once I try to put myself in others shoes, I must remember they do not have my experience, and that change, however positive, is sometimes also scary. Fear creates individual reactions, often built on past experiences that may be unrelated, and thus not exactly logical or helpful in the grand scheme of things, but real to the person. 

Therefore we understand that its important to listen and discuss as well as really what we plan to do in Chaffee county, including providing fact based answers to some really smart, and some really imaginative questions that have come up.

G.B. Heidarsson - Principal @ WestGeo

Let's continue to ask and answer questions. That's the way to get to a good common conclusion. Here are a selected few that we hear often, use the comment box below to add.

Does a geothermal power plant effect real estate value

There are no correlating studies showing a negative or positive effect on Real Estate value from building a geothermal power plant, and there are no anecdotal examples  we have been able to find where it negatively affects Real Estate. What we however know is that lower, stable energy prices and energy security positively affects Real Estate value, and a geothermal power plant would supply just that. Furthermore, rising energy prices were proven to have a direct role in mortgage delinquency during the 2008 financial crisis. This would not happen to communities secured by plentiful predictably priced geothermal energy

Can drilling for geothermal energy cause earthquakes

In the case of Hydrothermal Energy, seismic activity is rare and almost without exception not detectable by humans. However, Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) which includes drilling at extreme depth and with an extremely powerful fracking component has a higher level of risk. This was a contributing factor to an earthquake in Pohang in South Korea on November 15th, 2017. The activity most likely helped released tension that had built up over a long time prematurely. Geothermal Energy Harvesting through Enhanced Geothermal systems is not being considered for any of Western Geothermal's planned locations, and as far as we know, not planned for any site in Colorado

Isn't there pollution from geothermal?

Geothermal sources close to volcanic sites, such as many in Iceland certainly do emit CO2 through the wells. In Iceland the solution is to "pack" it into  into minerals underground, which is a simple, cost effective and permanent solution to get CO2 out of the Atmosphere. The practice in fact is a promising solution for general carbon capture and removal strategies. However, at it's worst, even if this CO2 would not be captured it is fractional to fossil fuel pollution. In lower heat areas, like the ones we see in Colorado, CO2 so minuscule that it's hardly detectable, and thus not polluting. Western Geothermal however, continues to advice on carbon capture and is dedicated not only to generate clean energy, but to help reduce greenhouse gasses already in the atmosphere. 

But it's a factory, it must be noisy, right?

Geothermal power plants are frequently found within half a mile from residential areas, and no noise pollution reaches the residents. There is a hum from generators and sometimes from air-cooling equipment, but not so much that it interferes with conducting general conversations, even within the grounds of the geothermal plant. There are of course exceptions from this, especially when plants are rural and far away from residential area, and power plants are designed without concern from noice pollution. Then to maximize building efficiency "loud" cooling fan systems are sometimes put in place.

Photo by Jonathan Forage - Unsplashed

Hydrothermal site's as the ones planned by Western Geothermal in Chaffee County, harnesses electricity through a Binary Power Plant as displayed above, but is likely to generate most value through direct-use heating, in a system similar to the ones used to heat over 90% of all houses in Iceland