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They Went Green Before Green Was Cool

They Took Green Advantage Of Their Natural Energy

OR-Klamath_Falls_Lake-Rainbow_rightFounded in 1867 Klamath Falls, Oregon, population 42,000, is located in the south central region of Oregon bordering northern California. It sits on the southern shore of the Upper Klamath Lake, nestled in the Klamath Basin on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains.

Here in this timber and ranching town when snow falls it accumulates, as usual, on everything except the nice, toasty, dry sidewalks. Well, that’s different, very nice, but different!

So, what gives? Well because of the town’s location it is a perfect site for geothermal energy. Hot volcanic rock is closer to the surface here, and comes with the water needed to bring the energy to the surface. And they been utilizing their natural gift since 1990! When green was just a color and not a strived for way of life. Not realizing their town is one of the nation’s most robust users of green energy and all the while creating an itty bitty carbon footprint.

Klamath20080129More than 600 geothermal wells heats sidewalks, provides heat and energy to a brew pub and it’s kettles, downtown buildings, greenhouses (like a red fir seedlings greenhouse), a college campus, schools, homes, a hospital, as well as turning the turbine on a small power plant. All for at least a third less than natural gas.

Geothermal energy has been limited by having to find the three essentials ingredients occurring together in one place naturally (like in the case of Klamath Falls): hot rock relatively close to the surface, water, and cracks in the rock that serve as a reservoir. For the vast majority of the U.S. and the world that are not so naturally gifted, research is in full swing to perfect a technology known as EGS, for Enhanced Geothermal Systems. One form of EGS involves drilling thousands of feet down to reach hot rock, pumping water down to fracture the rock to create reservoirs, then sending down water that will come back up another well as hot water or steam that can spin a turbine to generate electricity.

OregonThe system can be dropped in practically anywhere that hot rocks are close enough to the surface to make drilling economical. The major problem with EGS is the potential to create earthquakes. Pumping water into the ground to open numerous tiny fractures in the rock for a reservoir makes the earth move — what scientists call induced seismicity. Earthquakes stopped an EGS project in the middle of Basel, Switzerland, last year, and an international protocol has been developed for monitoring and mitigating earthquake problems.

Yikes! That’s a serious little problem to overcome. So until then, only the ‘gifted’ locales can truly engage in this green, cheap, and sustainable energy.

Presently geothermal energy accounts for 0.5 % of U.S. energy production. Because of the afore mentioned limitation. But once the limitations are overcome, which researchers such as those at MIT, are optimistically sure is on the horizon, this technology could be producing 100 gigawatts of electricity — equivalent to 1,000 coal-fired or nuclear power plants — by 2050, and has the potential to generate a large fraction of the nation’s energy needs for centuries to come.

But in the mean time, for those that can, what a great model Klamath Falls makes for a still-fledgling industry that is gaining steam with $338 million in stimulus funds and more than 100 projects nationwide!

… a little green town – unawares!

as the green future unfolds!

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No Responses to “They Went Green Before Green Was Cool”

  1. Rudi @ PostalGold Says:

    Ahhh and I thought my small home town was doing their bit by being the first town in the world to ban bottled water…these guys have been doing it for more than a decade! A great insight into the idea of people utilising the resources at hand rather than looking for a quick fix solution.
    .-= Rudi @ PostalGold´s last blog ..Chrome might not pay – But Gold does! =-.

  2. Linda Says:

    Hi Rudi … You betcha! I am impressed by the outlawing of bottled water for your town. That is really a good start. BTW, these guys have been doing it for 2 decades now…

    Hi Orlandy …. LOL! yes! I too would love to know how they can be prevented but only time will tell! Come back again!

  3. Orlandy Says:

    All power to Klamath Falls (excuse the pun)! How very sensible to use the resources available to them. It will be interesting to see how EGS technology progresses and how the tiny problem of inducing earthquakes can be overcome.
    .-= Orlandy´s last blog ..Haiti Promised £7bn To Aid Earthquake Recovery =-.

  4. Jacqueline Says:

    What a beautiful town. I’m jealous.

    On another note … induced seismicity makes me very uncomfortable. I’m starting to wonder how many earthquakes have been REAL and how many got a stimulus package.

  5. Linda Says:

    Hi Jacqueline … LOL! You have me wondering as well!

  6. Left Coast Exotics Says:

    While the potential for renewable energy is great that process of man made EGS makes me Very nervous. Anything that creates fissures in the earth has the potential for very serious side effects.
    .-= Left Coast Exotics´s last blog ..The Human Regenerator for Sale =-.

  7. Linda Says:

    Hi Left Coast … You my friend, make an outstanding point! Presently unless a locale is truly gifted by Mother Nature like Klamath Falls, there are many many other avenues (solar, wind, waterways, oceans) that safely beg for our attention and resources. Then future generations with better technologies can, if they deem it necessary, safely harness this type of energy for everyone.

  8. Simply Delicious Says:

    Have a Happy Easter!!!
    .-= Simply Delicious´s last blog ..Fruit Cake =-.

  9. Linda Says:

    Hi Simply Delicious … You as well! 😀

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  11. Linda Says:

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