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Geothermal plant likely cause of earthquakes

The Local · 8 Dec 2010, 11:25

Published: 08 Dec 2010 11:25 GMT+01:00

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In mid-August 2009, a quake damaged a number of homes in the area. One month later, six other measurable tremors were recorded.

According to regional broadcaster SWR, the strongest quake registered at 2.5 on the Richter scale.

In November some 40 residents reported cracks in their walls following the quakes, the station said.

Experts commissioned by the state found that since the plant began operating in November 2007, the number of measurable micro-earthquakes had increased.

The report recommended increased observation of the ground around the facility to enable quicker reaction by authorities in the case of more tremors.

The earthquakes were probably caused by a rise in pore water pressure - the pressure created by groundwater held in rock or soil underground - resulting from the plant's operations.

The power plant pulls hot water up from rock more than three kilometres below the ground surface, converting it to electricity and heat. The water is then returned to the earth through a second boring.

The Landau geothermal power plant, operated by Geox, is the largest of its kind in Germany.

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Following the quakes, the state Economy Ministry increased safety requirements for the plant, enforcing a lower output and a reduction of pressure for the water being reintroduced into the earth, SWR reported.

The subsidiary of energy provider Pfalzwerke and EnergieSüdwest was also required to take out liability insurance covering up to €50 million in damages per year.

DPA/The Local/ka

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Your comments about this article

14:36 December 8, 2010 by delvek
Maybe its me but something about this article makes me nervous.
14:47 December 8, 2010 by ReaderX
Imagine that! I thought all this renewable green energy crap was better for us and the environment. /sarcasm
15:22 December 8, 2010 by dbert4
@ReaderX - Get a grip, this renewable green energy "crap" isn't causing anything near the problems and hazards that atomic or fossil energy causes. Ask those people at Chernobyl
00:40 December 9, 2010 by rfwilson

"Get a grip, this renewable green energy "crap" isn't causing anything near the problems and hazards that atomic or fossil energy causes."


Why am I reminded about the ethanol fuel debacle? Ethanol was shoved down our throats as a gasoline substitute. A green fuel, they said. Doesn't that already make you feel warm and fuzzy?

Well, when the accounting was done, it turns out when you factor in ethanol's 40% worse mileage, and the massive amounts of CO2 liberated in the fermentation and distillation processes, ethanol generates essentially the same or slightly worse CO2 as just burning gasoline. Talk about shooting ourselves in the foot!

And that doesn't even take into consideration the damage caused by using food to make fuel.

It seems all these "miracle" green solutions introduce unanticipated problems.
09:55 December 10, 2010 by dbert4
Not sure where you get you statistics but, the international accepted value is that ethanol produces, "12-25 percent less energy for transportation by volume". Which isn't a bad trade-off for less polution and the benefit that a locally produced (non-imported) fuel provides. The economic damage of using food for fuel is much less than the damage caused by commodity traders to everything that we buy.
14:43 December 10, 2010 by ReaderX
Problems with Ethanol:

First, it doesn't have as much energy as gasoline, which means it takes about 1.5 gallons of ethanol to get you as far as one gallon of gas.

Ethanol also requires a lot to produce it - 26 pounds of corn to get a gallon, in fact. And growing corn requires lots of water and fertilizer and pesticide, not to mention the energy required to distill it into ethanol.

And by-products of that distillation include (according to the EPA) acetic acid, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and methanol, all of which are pumped into the air. Yum.

It boils down to this: Ethanol sounds good, but the energy required to produce it, and the pollutants it generates, mean it's arguably worse for the environment than gasoline, especially considering the cleanliness of today's engines.

Ethanol is a cleaner-burning fuel than gasoline, to be sure - using ethanol instead of gas can reduce greenhouse gases by 35-46%, according to Argonne National Laboratory. But it's not as efficient a fuel as gasoline. In fact, it takes a gallon and a half of ethanol to give you the same energy as a gallon of gas.

To get a gallon of ethanol, you need a little more than 26 pounds of corn, and an acre of land can yield about 9,400 pounds per year. In other words, one acre of land can generate about 362 gallons of ethanol per year.

But people in the U.S. use about 174 million gallons of gasoline per day just for their cars (so says the Department of Energy). If the Magic Fairy came down and all our cars suddenly ran on ethanol we would need about 261 million gallons per day.

That would require more than 260 million acres of corn to produce. Considering that in 2000 farmers in the U.S. harvested about 73 million acres of corn, it looks like they'll need to get cracking.

So those are some statistics on Ethanol. Might want to do a bit of research folks.

It's not about saving the planet, which in and of it's self is a good thing. But rather it's about companies/ governments and lobbyists making you feel guilty for not buying into their rhetoric. Think of the poor little polar bear!
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