I had been having a really strange dream that the Japs had hammered the Springboks and were going for the Rugby World Cup. Silly, I know, because everyone knows that couldn't happen - it'd be the stuff that nightmares are made of. I recall it vividly though, because I was awoken just at that point in the dream by our little boy at about 3am this morning. Poor little mite couldn't breathe - he's unwell, and his nose is all blocked up. So I sat up with him asleep upright in the crook of my arm. Unable to sleep, I got my laptop and started to read the newsfeeds in my bazqux feed aggregator, and up popped this item, and which immediately caught my attention:Geothermal power's future may hinge on balls of DNA | Digital Trends
Geothermal exploitation uses a kind of "fracking" approach. It seems as though a bunch of canny scientists/engineers st Stanford U have teamed up and discovered an ingenious way of solving one of the major problems holding back geothermal development - i.e., where best to drill the "well" and how to best tap all the energy that it releases
. They have started trialling the use of synthetic DNA to trace the underground fractures created by a well.
A lot of people don't realise that NZ is world famous not just for its All Blacks rugby team, but also for many other things too numerous to mention, including
its historical ground-breaking use of geothermal energy:
Geothermal energy use in New Zealand is strongly tied to Wairakei, where the first geothermal plant was opened in 1958. At that time, it was only the second large-scale plant existing worldwide (the first being the Valle del Diavolo 'Devil's Valley' plant in Larderello, Italy opened in 1911).
As a keen environmentalist, what I find so great about this is the environmental aspect - geothermal energy has a near-zero marginal production cost and is not land-intensive (does not use a lot of land) and is one of New Zealand's most reliable renewable energy resources
, currently contributing about 17% of the national grid supply.Reliable
because it is placed well above the land-intensive and "astronomical cost" (per Bill Gates) of wind and solar power, and even above the relatively cheap hydroelectricity (which currently provides more than half of the NZ grid supply), due to its lack of dependence on the weather or the rotation of the earth
.So, hats off to those Stanford U scientists/engineers.
All countries have this energy source literally "under their feet". This discovery could now enable all countries to better locate and successfully tap their (renewable) geothermal resources for energy, which can only be good for the environment in the long run. It will provide some respite for the environment, from what have proven to be monumentally environmentally damaging and land-intensive renewables projects (onshore/offshore wind, and solar power), and any land-intensive (e.g., dams) environmental engineering projects (hydro-electric).