There is much talk about wind and solar, but they are both intermittent, unpredictable, and expensive. The real solution to the energy and pollution problem is geothermal. It was determined in 1980 that if we could instantly switch over all our energy needs to geothermal, and continue to increase our usage at the present rate, it would take a million years to lower the core of the Earth half a degree. For all practical purposes, it is an inexhaustible source of dirt-cheap, perfectly clean, continuous energy. The process is simple and straightforward. Drill down to a geothermal hot spot, pump water down the well, steam rushes up to drive a turbine to generate electricity at less than two cents a kilowatt-hour, and recirculate the water back down the well.
Most hot spots are too deep for our current drilling technology, but there is one geothermal area that is big enough and shallow enough to easily supply all our nation’s power for the foreseeable future: Yellowstone. It sits atop the largest known super-volcano, with a magma chamber about 40 miles long, 20 miles wide, and only 8 miles below the surface. We simply ring the whole caldera with dozens, or even hundreds of small inconspicuous geothermal power plants, completely out of sight of the tourist areas. It is technically and economically viable to transmit high voltage power up to at least 4000 miles. From Yellowstone, it is only about 2000 miles to New York, and 1000 miles to Los Angeles.
Since Yellowstone is a national park, the electricity produced would belong to “We the people” so our government could sell it to the private utilities at a handsome profit for five cents per kilowatt-hour, adding $200 billion a year to our treasury, helping to reduce our taxes. The result would be that the price of electricity in urban areas would be cut in half from about 20 cents per kilowatt hour to ten cents or less. That would stimulate the growth of all energy dependent industries.
We could then shut down all our carbon-based power plants. Natural disasters can disrupt distribution, so our cleanest most efficient power plants would be placed in active standby. The dirtiest ones would be refurbished to run on hydrogen. These plants would use off-peak grid capacity to electrolyze water, generating and storing hydrogen for later use. As an added benefit, this would release oxygen to enrich the urban atmosphere, improving general health.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to this plan is that by drawing excess heat out of the Yellowstone caldera, we can probably delay or even prevent the next super-eruption. Past eruptions have occurred about every 600,000, and we are way past due. These eruptions are so large that they can globally darken the skies for several years, and wipe out most life on the planet.
Getting cheap energy, zero pollution, and saving the world as a no-cost side benefit? Priceless!
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