Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Volcano power possibilities erupting in Utah's Black Rock Desert

In the wind-whipped region of west central Utah lies a volcano, a literal hotbed of geothermal energy that has the potential to erupt with cheap, dependable power for years to come.

"This big basin is hot," said Rick Allis, director of the Utah Geological Survey.

The Black Rock Desert is teeming with underground heat revealed through a two-year research project that sunk holes in the ground suggesting temperatures of up to 500 degrees, 13,000 feet deep.

The results of the effort that paired geoscientists with the Utah Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey will be presented Monday in Reno, Nev., at an industry conference, where the big find is expected to draw big attention.

The find at Black Rock Desert at first blush is intimidating — extraction would have to take place at thousands of feet deep — but Allis said the technology is already there with the oil industry.

Tapping that volcano power in this region is particularly attractive because of a major transmission line that already ships power to California, as well as a coal-fired power plant. The infrastructure is there, ready to be used, Allis added. Deseret News