Isle of Tenerife

‘Hot rock’ source of energy

Tentative steps are being taken to explore the potential “hot rock’ technology has to solve the need for a sustainable energy alternative source in Tenerife.

In the drive for reduced emissions and cleaner sources of energy, ‘hot rock’ or, more precisely, geothermal technology has been largely ignored.

Yet its potential to provide mankind with an environmentally-friendly and economically-viable energy available on a worldwide scale is immense.

Geothermal technology involves the mechanically simple process of injecting water into a borehole several kilometres deep, where the temperature can be over 250C.

The superheated water is then retrieved through one or more other boreholes.

Keeping it under pressure prevents it from becoming steam so that any material dissolved in the water can be filtered and returned to the ground.

At the surface the water is passed through a heat exchanger to extract most of the heat, which is then used to drive a turbine to generate electricty.

The cooled water is returned to the injection borehole to start the cycle over again.

What makes Tenerife an attractive proposition for exploring this basic technology is that the hot rocks are much nearer the surface.

An Australian company, Petratherm, has secured a licence from the Canary Islands government to operate on Tenerife.

The firm’s managing director, Terry Kallis, says the islands lie on top of “super-hot volcanic structures at relatively low depth“.

Temperatures of over 300C are often found at depths of as little as two kilometres in active volcanic areas, half the depth of usual drilling operations.

Petratherm’s exploration licence covers large areas in the north and north east of the island.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007 at 6:00 am and is filed under About Tenerife, Science.

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