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AltaRock Energy

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AltaRock Energy

AltaRock Energy Inc., headquartered in Seattle, Washington and having a technology development office in Sausalito, California, is a privately held corporation that focuses on the development of geothermal energy resources and Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). AltaRock has filed patent applications and holds exclusive licenses for related intellectual property related to EGS. [1] In 2008, it started its first project near The Geysers to demonstrate the ability of EGS to be a reliable, renewable and clean source for the production of electric power.[2]

AltRock’s efforts to expand EGS technologies are supported by a 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) report [3] that concluded EGS has the potential to provide 100 GWe (gigawatts of electricity) or more for the U.S. by 2050.

Founded in 2007 by serial entrepreneur Andrew Perlman and his business partners, AltaRock has received backing from investors such as Google.org, Advanced Technology Ventures , and Vulcan Capital, as well as demonstration grant funding from the United States Department of Energy (DOE).[4]

Projects

The Newberry EGS Demonstration

The company currently has a demonstration project underway about 30 miles south of Bend, Oregon in the Deschutes National Forest. The Newberry EGS Demonstration[5] is located on an existing Federal lease designated for geothermal use and is supported by a committee that includes representatives of the community, environmental groups, government and the geothermal industry.[6] AltaRock’s Newberry EGS Demonstration will create an EGS reservoir in the high-temperature, low-permeability resource present on the northwest flank of the Newberry Volcano. The Demonstration will use hydraulic shearing (as opposed to hydraulic fracturing) and other stimulation techniques to induce and sustain fluid flow and geothermal heat extraction, culminating in the conceptual design of a commercial-scale well field and power plant. Water usage [7] and induced seismicity [8] analyses for the demonstration site have been completed and conclude the project poses little risk to the area or local communities.

The Geysers Demonstration

In 2008, AltaRock started a demonstration project at The Geysers geothermal field. The Geysers field has hundreds of megawatts of unused electric power generating capacity due to the lack of steam caused by several decades of reservoir depletion. At The Geysers demonstration, AltaRock intended to re-drill a well originally drilled in 1988 and used for years to inject water to produce steam for the existing geothermal power plants. Three attempts were made to re-drill the well from various depths but the drilling assembly became stuck each time in unstable serpentinite formation. Drilling at The Geysers demonstration site has been suspended [9] while the company evaluates a number of alternative well locations at the Geysers and elsewhere for demonstrating this technology.

References

External links

  • AltaRock Energy Inc. website
  • Geothermal Technologies Program - Enhanced Geothermal Systems (U.S. Department of Energy)
  • Newberry Enhanced Geothermal Systems Demonstration
  • Geothermal Technologies Program (U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE))
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