Geothermal discussions in Puna

“I will admit that I support low scale geothermal. We still import most
of our fuel so any locally sourced energy has it’s advantages.” -M
response: You haven’t been there very long (you came in after all the worst of the previous round of development). You might want to talk with your long-time local neighbors about what they’ve been through with 20+ years of (publicly subsidized) geothermal development.

“Let us study Iceland to see how they do it!” – M

If we *truly* look at Iceland (and New Zealand and others doing geothermal) we will see that we have a completely different geological context from them. Geothermal development proponents will keep saying that because geothermal is working out OK in these other places, that it can be the same here.

Fact is, geothermal elsewhere in the world (New Zealand, Iceland, California, etc.) is not like here.

We are drilling into an active rift zone on an active (and young) volcano. Although both NZ and Iceland also have active volcanoes in some areas, they are not stupid enough to locate their geothermal development in their most highly active, unstable and dangerous areas.

I don’t know if we have any areas that are as geologically/geothermally stable as the areas used for geothermal development in those other places. The east rift of Kilauea is probably not such a place.

So any comparisons with geothermal development elsewhere are bogus at the level of the geology and types of geothermal sources/activity involved. It is not the same here as there. I expect we could find some geothermal-savvy geologists who would testify to that?

This kind of approach is important because it is scientifically grounded, and raises issues of both public safety *and* investor risk (people don’t want to invest in risky things – the riskier this is shown to be, the harder it will be to get investors).
Remember that Harry Kim (as head of Civil Defense) opposed the spaceport proposal for K’au on purely civil defense/safety grounds.

As to location, this is a business investment intended to make people money. So there will be no geothermal infrastructure built in lava zones 1 or 2, the areas most likely to be wiped out by ongoing or new flows and where insurance may not even be available (e.g. lose money, not make money). It’s got to be zone 3 or safer (and as above, the more risky it can be shown to be in all ways, the less willing investors).

Reducing the money willing to flow to this project may be one of the more effective potential strategies.

John S.


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