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Brightest Brains in Geoscience Scheduled to Talk Shop at Newberry Volcano

Scientists around the world tackle technical challenges at Newberry Geothermal Test Facility

July 2017
Brightest Brains in Geoscience Scheduled to Talk Shop at Newberry Volcano

Enhanced geothermal systems work by flowing geothermal fluid underground through a fracture network. The hot, underground rock heats the fluid and turns it to steam which is then used to turn turbines and generate electricity.

Geothermal energy has the potential to meet the nation’s power needs many times over. According to DOE, enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) could generate more than 100 GW of energy. However, new approaches and technologies must be developed to create economically viable EGS.

The Newberry Geothermal Test Facility is a uniquely qualified place to test and develop super-hot EGS technology (T>400 °C). Newberry is one of the largest geothermal heat reservoirs in the western United States and is located on the western flank of the Newberry Volcano in Central Oregon. Here, hot rock is closer to the surface, making it easier to drill high-temperature wells and carry out super-hot EGS research. Millions of dollars have already been invested in the site, resulting in a ready-to-use facility with the necessary infrastructure, environmental permits, land commitments, and monitoring plans.

More Insight into a Nearly Perfect Geothermal Site

Brightest Brains in Geoscience Scheduled to Talk Shop at Newberry Volcano

The Newberry site is representative of volcanic features throughout the western U.S., including the Cascade volcanic range of Washington, Oregon, and northern California, a region with the highest untapped geothermal potential in the country, making technology tested at Newberry widely applicable. Enlarge Image

From September 10-14, 2017 the NEWGEN consortium will hold an international workshop at Oregon State University’s Cascades campus in Bend, Oregon. The workshop, sponsored by the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP) will invite geoscience experts from around the world to develop a full proposal for drilling one of the hottest wells in the world at the Newberry Geothermal Test Facility.

ICDP is a non-profit organization that supports international science teams with a proven need for land-based drilling. During this workshop, important scientific questions related to volcanic hazards and geothermal energy will be discussed by more than 40 engineers and scientists. While ICDP may partly fund future drilling, an important goal of the workshop is to identify other funding sources interested in contributing to potential economic breakthroughs in geothermal energy production and scientific breakthroughs in caldera unrest and magmatic intrusions dynamics.

The NEWGEN consortium was formed in 2015 by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, AltaRock Energy, Oregon State University, and Statoil to develop a research observatory on geothermal energy at the Newberry Geothermal Test Facility. The ICDP workshop was proposed by the NEWGEN team and other world-renowned scientists and engineers from the United States, Canada, Japan, Norway, Iceland, France, and Italy. Invited participants will have world-class expertise in geothermal energy, drilling at extreme temperatures, seismology, and volcanology.

For more information about the workshop see the ICDP website, the NEWGEN website and Facebook page.


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