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Guest Analysis: Meet the Rodney Dangerfield of Cleantech

Guest Analyst: David Gold

Wind turbines stand tall and mesmerize with their motion. Solar cells bask in the sparkling sun.  Meanwhile, hidden down in the dark dirty underworld, a compelling technology sits quietly and gets no respect.  Once installed it largely goes unseen and, it seems, it’s equally invisible in the world of clean technology press, venture funding and government R&D funding.  Yet this technology provides some of the most intriguing economic returns available for reducing a building’s net energy consumption and I would welcome the right opportunity to fund an exciting business in this category.

What is this Rodney Dangerfield of cleantech?  Geothermal heat pumps, also referred to as ground source heat pumps or geoexchange.  Anyone who has gone down a hundred feet or so in a cave on a hot day probably noticed how nice and cool it was down there.  That is because in most geology, a zone of nearly constant 55-degree Fahrenheit temperature exists 50-200 feet below the ground we walk on.  Even at shallower depths the temperature hovers within a much narrower range than on the surface. Geoexchange is technology that uses the constant temperature and huge heat sink that the earth represents to generate heat in the wintertime …

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New Mexico geothermal project gets a push in the right direction

Lisa Sibley

Today’s big news in the geothermal space is that energy technology company Raser Technologies (NYSE:RZ) has obtained $15.3 million in preliminary financing for its New Mexico Lightning Dock project from FE Clean Energy Group and Evergreen Clean Energy.

When completed, the project is expected to deliver up to 15 megawatts of geothermal power. The investors are to take a 51 percent interest in the project, with Raser developing and managing it.

Why it matters? The announcement demonstrates there’s continued investor interest in making sure the project progresses as planned, despite a long history of stops and starts in the geothermal hot spot.

Raser has re-entered a well at the southwestern New Mexico-based location, originally drilled in 1983-4 revealing temperatures of greater than 300 degrees Fahrenheit that was later shut down in 1997 due to design problems. It marks one of the most heavily studied, underdeveloped geothermal resources in the United States because of its near-term electric potential, according to a 2006 publication by the Geothermal Energy Association for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The so-called Lightning Dock Geothermal Anomaly in Animas Valley was first discovered in 1948 when boiling water in a hot rhyolite (volcanic rock) was found …

Geothermal energy is on the rise

Federica Dalamel de Bournet

Geothermal energy supplies less than 1% of global electricity demand. However the industry is now picking up. What are the pros and cons of a geothermal energy uptake?