Geothermal, Quickie & Slowly.
Let's talk just green power (no emissions: no corn-diesel).
Wind and solar generation only work when there is wind and sun; they are an Intermittent power source.
From Wiki: "Using larger amounts of intermittent power may require upgrades or even a redesign of the grid infrastructure.". Sounds like Hydro One is planning ahead to suck more taxes from Ontario? I am sure they are thinking of more ways to get tax money than resolve our energy problems in Ontario.
Geothermal energy is baseload, meaning “24/7” and constant output (except scheduled maintenance and no massive earthquakes). Add enough geothermal capacity, and we can also eliminate some peaking plants.
Load balancing is what stabilizes our electrical grid “energy” from intermittent sources. When wind and solar are operating, they also need to run traditional loads (coal & gas) to balance them out, load-following. Geothermal is baseload, like traditional generation plants. This is why wind and solar are not that great for direct transmission into the grid, far from communities.
Wind and solar are great for distributed generation, meaning, feeding a small group of loads (homes & arcades) that are already grid connected. Why? Because of transmission losses. Transmitting energy through the transmission lines incurs a loss. You can ballpark it at ~30% loss, just on our wires. Distributed generation, using intermittent sources, is better than Intermittent sources feeding directly to the grid.
So when deciding on government grants for renewable energy: we should be choosing geothermal first. Why? With solar and wind, you need to run dirty energy to balance their loads ( plus transmission losses! ). Geothermal does not need load balancing since it is baseload generation ( okay, power engineers, I do not want to bore my audience too much, so, keep it to yourself, okay? )
So the next time someone installs a big wind or big solar array, look at it first. Can Geothermal do a greener job? Yes, because of the compound benefit we get with each geothermal installation. Intermittent loads complicate this balancing of "black magic" that Hydro One does. That is why the executives there make huge cash, right?. I see they are really thinking ahead too, thinking more profits and budgets as they have to modify the grid to accommodate a growing number of intermittent power sources across the province.
And that was your geothermal quickie, Bye-bye!
Want to go deeper on geothermal? Read on.
Transmission losses can be thought of as “just the losses in the transmission lines”, but, I assert that we need to use science to get a better picture. This will become important when you think of investing in solar power, wind, passive solar, geothermal, and yes you geeks: compost, hydro, gas digester, etc. ( I included losses in heat, so, insulate those pipes!)
The losses are also based on what types of equipment we use and where you are “located”. I say “located”, because you want to be “as close” (meaning not only distance but, number of “transformations” of energy that happen between, say, your toaster versus your electric car) as possible. Items that hold a charge are less efficient versus items with an electrical cord, but even chorded items can have losses, like electronic device such as your PVR, whew) to the “generator” that is actually powering your device. Plus, charged items have dirty batteries!
Equipment that transforms power between AC and DC always incurs a loss. Step transformers (that step up/down voltage) also have losses. Those are the laws of the universe folks until we have super-cheap superconductors. The loss can be thought of mostly as heat. Sometimes a fan is needed for cooling them. Your microprocessor also has a fan, same idea. Items that use induction charging are even worse for losses, if the device is not in direct contact with the charger pad, again heat losses. Charge a battery, heat. Come to think of it: Car exhaust = heat, Truck brakes = heat. Heat losses at your home. All called waste heat, because its a waste. Could this be another factor in climate change too? ;)
So, once you add up all the transformation losses, you can look at the total efficiency of your energy transmission. A solar panel connected to a LED: super efficient transmission. A cordless drill, charged with grid power, way out in the " sticks", much much less efficient transmission. A DC Drill connected to a larger solar panel + sunlight: super efficient transmission (“they” do not sell DC products: A DC refrigerator would help, think about it). Electric car charging with grid power, way out in the sticks, much much less efficient transmission. If you installed a solar panel at your house in the sticks, you would need batteries and a transformer and rectifier. More losses. But, it will be "less loss" than the energy from the grid. Gets complex sometimes. That is why you have to break it down and understand how you use electricity.
Whew, Geothermal. Most people whine about geothermal being location dependent. I agree. You have to be on earth to get it. It's down deep. Its called deep geothermal. It's potentially dangerous until we figure this beast out. Does Canada have the resources to design a deep geothermal system? Think of each deep geothermal system being in the 100 – 200 MW class. Of course, there is nasty toxic chemicals and heavy metals, that is what earth is made of. Again, we have to use bacteria and metal capturing systems to keep it Green. We have a big country, plus, these stations can replace current systems, on location (no need to explode old coal stations! I talk about dirty coal trying to look clean. In the end, I provide a green migration path of older coal systems to deep geothermal. Reduce and repurpose old coal and NG with Green deep geothermal systems. No emissions, no fuel, no worries ( maybe ).
Canada also possesses “Best of Class” mining ( drilling ) technology. Deep geothermal is deep. Most would complain that it costs a lot to go “deep”. It is if you do not innovate drilling techniques. This is why I assert that we must use hydrogen drilling. It is fast, and there is “no wear” versus drill bits that need replacing at ~$30,000 a pop. These “water channels” that need to be drilled have to be big. Hydrogen drilling is the best method that I have seen so far to meet that challenge. You could probably drill holes that are a meter in diameter, with depth rates that will blow your mind.
A team in France has already started, not with the “hydrogen drilling”, but they have 50MW deep geothermal working. Baseload. No emissions, but they still have the toxic problems.
Innovation is important to Canada. We need to leverage our knowledge and think up new strategies on green power. We need political leadership to bring these people together and start making big money, big jobs, clean our environment, and define world-class systems for export. Sound like a dream? It is my dream for now.
Politicians would hate to lose one vote, even if it is at the expense of Canadas and our planet's future.
P.S. - I am not a power engineer! What I say may have some errors, but, I want to highlight the benefits of geothermal. Hope most of it "makes sense" to everyone!