OGDEN — The Utah Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy, better known as FORGE, has started drilling a geothermal well in Milford. The well is going to test tools and technologies for the future creation of more geothermal resources where there are presently none.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry called geothermal “one of our most abundant and untapped energy resources especially in Utah” in a video from the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development. “Geothermal energy is a virtually inexhaustible supply of renewable 24/7 reliable power.”
FORGE will drill down 4,700 feet vertically, at which point the drill will hit granite before continuing another 1,300 feet. At 6,000 feet, the company will angle the drill 5 degrees every 100 feet until a 65-degree angle has been achieved, which will result in a total length of 11,000 feet, a little more than two miles, and a total vertical depth of 8,500 feet.
The temperature at 8,500 feet is about 440 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to produce power, water will be pumped down into the well to heat up and will then be pumped back out as steam through a second angled well to power a turbine. The second well is tentatively set to be drilled in 2022.
The main difference from most geothermal wells is that this one is going to be highly deviated, which means it will achieve a greater than a 60-degree angle, where most geothermal wells only achieve a 30-degree angle. Highly deviated wells allow more of the well to be at the optimal depth for heat capture.
“This is an exciting phase in the Utah FORGE project and is key to proving Enhanced Geothermal Systems technologies are commercially viable,” said Joseph Moore, principal researcher of the Utah FORGE project and a professor at the University of Utah.
Improving Enhanced Geothermal Systems will allow geothermal energy to become a more readily available resource, according to the FORGE website. Geothermal energy is renewable, domestic, clean, leaves a small footprint and is designed to produce energy constantly, according to the U.S. Department of Energy
Geothermal power has been in Utah since 1984 at the Blundell Geothermal Power Plant in Roosevelt. There are currently close to 3,000 geothermal wells and springs on record with the Utah Geological Survey.
Of the 3,000 marked geothermal wells and springs, three geothermal power plants in Utah produce 73 megawatts of power, which can provide power to about 73,000 homes. The goal of the new well in Milford is to test new technology to make geothermal an even better option for sustainable, green energy.
Written by BRAXTON BROWNLEE, Weber State University reporter.
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