Thomas Beka (to the right) and researchers from the University of Oulu testing equipment for measuring of thermal energy.(Photo: Trude Pettersen)
OULU: Scientists are now looking into the potential for electricity production wined from geothermal energy reservoirs in Svalbard. Further, they are considering the possibility of combining this with carbon dioxide capture and storage.
Currently, Svalbard is getting all of its energy supplies from burning fossil fuel. In the future, the settlements on the archipelago can become be self-efficient with energy from a local renewable source.
Countries such as Iceland, the US and the Philippines have already harvested a significant amount of their electricity supply from geothermal energy reservoirs. In theory most countries can harvest geothermal energy, simply because the temperature in the ground will increase the further down in the Earth’s surface you penetrate. However, dependent on how far down one has to drill in order to hit a high enough temperature, some places on Earth are far more cost efficient for harvesting geothermal energy than others. Svalbard is located close to the mid-Atlantic rift. The earth’s crust is thin there, which makes it more cost efficient for production of geothermal electricity, Teknovatøren writes.
The University of Tromsø in northern Norway has for the last couple of years investigated the potential for geothermal energy both in Longyearbyen and in the research community of Ny-Ålesund.
The scientists are also studying the possibility to combine production of geothermal electricity with carbon dioxide capture by circulating carbon dioxide instead of water to harvest electricity. The carbon dioxide comes from fossil fuel production plants already located on Svalbard. Norway recently opened a new coal mine on Svalbard, as BarentsObserver reported.
Studying geothermal energy on Svalbard from Oulu
Thomas Beka from Tromsø is a phD student from Tromsø currently studying geophysics at the University of Oulu, Finland. “Oulu is known for its well-established research community within geophysics, that’s why I wanted to study here”, Beka says to BarentsObserver.
He was in Svalbard last summer to conduct field measurements of the geothermal resources and is now in the process of analyzing them. “Geothermal energy is one of most promising energy resources for a clean and sustainable future. In mainland Norway geothermic energy is not that commercially viable because we already have cheap energy, but Norway can have advantages because of our competence and knowledge from oil exploration and drilling”.
Beka is now planning tests in Svalbard during wintertime and is testing the equipment in the woods around Oulu. Permafrost is no problem when measuring the Earth’s electrical characteristics in order to detect heath sources, he says.
Norwegian state-owned coal mining company Store Norske on the Svalbard archipelago is in a serious situation because of low prices on coal. The company is now in dialogue with the State, employees and the bank to secure further operations in 2015.
What was the Barents Region’s only east-west flight, from Arkhangelsk to Tromsø via Murmansk, lacks permission and is no longer flying. Nordavia, however, hopes to see the Pskovaia operated aircraft soon landing in Tromsø again.
This abandoned polar hydrometrological station at Cape Menshikova on Novaya Zemlya can be declared a culture heritage site as Arkhangelsk authorities urge Moscow to include Arctic objects in the state register.
Industrialists in Finland eye the opening of a major trade and transport route with a projected railway connection to the Norwegian Arctic coast. Former PM Paavo Lipponen has been hired to get the Norwegians onboard.
Photographer Cristian Barnett traveled around the Arctic Circle, capturing life at 66° 33′ 44″ N. The result is his new book and traveling exhibition, Life on the Line. BarentsObserver spoke with Barnett about his impressions of life on the Circle and the decisions he made to capture it.
The Sami Council, which is an umbrella organization for Sami organizations in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, has agreed that there is a need for Sami to be present in the EU capital of Brussels and plans to establish an office there.