#Geothermal energy could mean a #renewable future for #Colorado’s oil fields — KUNC #ActOnClimate

Hydrocarbon processing in the Wattenberg Field east of Fort Lupton, Colo., on July 2, 2020. Photo/Allen Best

From KUNC (Rae Solomon):

…emerging advances in renewable technologies could help extend the operating life of aging oil wells and help address Colorado’s orphan well problem.

Selena Derichsweiler is chief executive officer of Transitional Energy, a local renewable energy startup. She and her business partner, Ben Burke, both worked for years in the oil and gas industry. Now, they are more interested in another thing the wells are bringing to the surface: geothermal energy…

“The temperature is the most valuable to me — wherever it’s hottest and has the most flow rate,” Derichsweiler said. “That temperature, that’s the thermal resort.”

Reconsidering a waste stream

According to Maria Richards, geothermal lab coordinator at Southern Methodist University, every oil and gas well doubles by default as a geothermal well.

“They are already mining the geothermal heat with every single one of their wells,” Richards said. “With every barrel of oil or cubic foot of gas that they bring up, they are mining the geothermal resources.”

But the oil and gas industry has never treated that heat as an asset to be tapped. If anything, Richards says they see the heat — in the form of hot water — as a nuisance that has an operating cost attached to it.

“They have to pay to get rid of that water,” Richards explained.

In part, that’s because oil and gas reservoirs are a lot cooler — 150 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit — than traditional geothermal sources, which are typically closer to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, so the geothermal potential hasn’t been obvious.

But recent advances in heat exchange technology now make it possible to generate geothermal energy at much milder temperatures — like those in the oil fields of northeast Colorado. The energy industry is only now catching up.

“It’s a mixture of needing the technology to grow and the oil and gas industry had to realize that they have a resource,” Richards said.

According to a recent report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, geothermal is an under-utilized energy source. The amount of energy produced from it in the U.S. lags far behind other sources.

2 library research grant applications now open — #Colorado State University

Members of the Colorado River Commission, in Santa Fe in 1922, after signing the Colorado River Compact. From left, W. S. Norviel (Arizona), Delph E. Carpenter (Colorado), Herbert Hoover (Secretary of Commerce and Chairman of Commission), R. E. Caldwell (Utah), Clarence C. Stetson (Executive Secretary of Commission), Stephen B. Davis, Jr. (New Mexico), Frank C. Emerson (Wyoming), W. F. McClure (California), and James G. Scrugham (Nevada)

Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Corinne Neustadter):

Colorado State University Libraries’ Water Resources Archive and Friedman Feminist Press Collection recently opened research assistance grants to applications for 2022.

Water scholars wanted

The Water Resources Archive is accepting applications for the Water Scholar Award to researchers who are studying topics related to western water. Grants of up to $1,500 will be awarded to researchers whose work would benefit from extensive use of the archive’s primary sources and other materials.

The archive contains a range of documents that shed light on the histories of irrigation, civil engineering, water management and interstate compacts with a central focus on Colorado.

Projects that focus on interstate water compacts – particularly the Colorado River Compact – are of special interest for 2022.

Grants can be used to offset travel expenses to visit the archive and costs associated with publishing scholarly products. Specific references to the collection’s holdings and their relation to the applicant’s area of research must be included.

Applications are due to CSU Libraries Water Resources Archivist Patty Rettig by Jan. 31, 2022.

Click here for more information on the Water Scholar Award and how to apply.

Explore the Friedman Feminist Press Collection

The Friedman Feminist Press Collection offers research grants of up to $1,750 for gender or women-focused projects that draw upon its extensive resources, which make up the largest collection of feminist press-published books and other materials in the Rocky Mountain West.

Named for CSU alumna June Friedman, the unique collection features a host of second-wave feminist literature and publishing materials that shed light into the development of the feminist movement.

Applications should include specific references to the collection’s sources and second-wave feminism topics. The grant is intended to support research visits and publishing scholarly products.

The first grant was awarded to postdoctoral researcher and CSU alumna Kianna Middleton in 2020, who recently presented her research on Black feminist writers.

Applications are due to CSU Libraries Coordinator for Digital and Archive Services Mark Shelstad by Jan. 21, 2022.

Click here for more information on the Friedman Feminist Press Collection grant and how to apply.

The #West Sizzled in a November Heat Wave and Snow #Drought: A regional warming and drying trend continues to intensify concerns about water and energy security — Inside #Climate News #ActOnClimate #snowpack

Cumulative precipitation (brown line) and average temperature (red line) for all 20-month, January–August periods since 1895. The current drought coincided with record-low precipitation and near-record high temperatures. NOAA Climate.gov, adapted from original by the NOAA Drought Task Force. Photo of low water levels in Lake Powell on August 13, 2017, by Flickr user Edwin van Buuringen, used under a Creative Commons license.

From Inside Climate News (Bob Berwyn):

Even as one of Denver’s longest snow droughts on record—232 days—was forecast to end on Friday, nerves in the Mile High City were frayed after a summer of climate extremes, and a heat wave that has stretched into late autumn.

Just a few days before the forecast snow, an intense wildfire had flared up deep in a Rocky Mountain canyon along I-70, Colorado’s main east-west interstate, and in the afternoon, a sudden dust storm blasted the region and chilled the air by 20 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes, temporarily breaking the month-long heat wave the West was mired in. The regional heat wave and drought also fueled an early December wildfire in Denton, Montana, that destroyed dozens of homes and businesses.

Research shows that global warming increases some persistent climate patterns that can intensify extremes like droughts and intense rain storms. In the Rockies and other parts of the West, recent extremes intensifed by global warming have included winter bomb cyclones, unusally large avalanches, lightning storms and wildfires, as well as floods.

In November, temperatures were between 6 degrees and 9 degrees Fahrenheit above average across a huge swath of the West, from the northern Plains through the Rockies and into the desert Southwest, according to the November 2021 federal monthly climate report. Across the Lower 48 states, it was the seventh warmest and eighth driest November in the 127-year record.

The continuation of the long-term warming and drying in the West has renewed concerns about regional water and power security. But the trends have been projected for years in recent major reports like the Fourth National Climate Assessment and major climate science reviews by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, both showing that global warming is making the Southwest more vulnerable to climate threats…

In Colorado, October and November seem to be particularly susceptible to the autumn warming trend, said Assistant State Climatologist Becky Bollinger. Taken together, recent climate extremes show how thirsty the overheated atmosphere is, and how overlapping trends of heating and drying intensify each other, she said. Without snow cover to reflect sunlight, the ground absorbs more heat, warming the air and making it more thirsty.

That can lead to dangerous “flash droughts” that aren’t related to a lack of precipitation, she said.

“When the air is really dry, combined with warm temperatures, sunshine and wind, it makes the atmosphere thirsty, where it really wants to take moisture from the surface,” she said. “We’re seeing those evaporative-demand conditions more often in the summer, and we saw them last October, and they contributed to the huge and devastating fires we saw in Colorado.”


Autumn Extremes Threaten Trees

As atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase, long autumn heat waves can end with an extreme temperature drop, as the climate engine grinds from neutral straight into third gear, from summer to mid-winter conditions. That can harm trees that are still trying to drink and breathe, as well temperature- and snow-sensitive animals that waited too long to migrate, or donned winter camouflage too early.

The Colorado State Forest Service documented the threat of autumn extremes to trees along the Front Range of Colorado after a sudden 70-degree Fahrenheit temperature drop in October 2019. In subsequent aerial monitoring, state scientists found widespread damage in multiple species, and they tracked a similar event in April 2020, when temperatures dropped from the 70s to single digits in 24 hours.

State entomologist Dan West, who tracks forest changes, said the October 2019 extreme temperature shift mainly affected the Front Range, running north to south along the base of the Rocky Mountains. Urban trees, including deciduous species, were also hit by the freeze. He said many of the conifer species show signs of bouncing back, but he warned that some forests may be in for multiple shocks, with more extreme conditions ahead.

Two big — and controversial — #Colorado #water projects want to tap into #DouglasCounty stimulus slosh-funds: With the county asking for ideas on how to spend $68 million from the American Rescue Plan, every dam, pipeline and diversion rushes in — The Colorado Sun

The South Platte River Basin is shaded in yellow. Source: Tom Cech, One World One Water Center, Metropolitan State University of Denver.

From The Colorado Sun (Michael Booth):

Big Colorado water diversion projects itching to get going on long-sought dam and pipeline dreams are rushing to get first in line for thirsty Douglas County’s $68.2 million in federal stimulus money.

Drinking water dams and pipelines have joined smaller-scale local water treatment and sewage projects, for totaling $247 million of the $280 million in overall stimulus requests in Douglas County so far, a county spokeswoman said. The other categories making up the remainder of the $280 million in proposals include broadband, economic recovery and mental health delivery.

Some of the biggest requests for Douglas County’s share of American Rescue Plan Act spending come from drinking water developers looking to jumpstart projects that can take decades to complete.

An $828 million, two-reservoir, 125-miles-of-pipeline project led by Parker’s water department wants $20 to 30 million of Douglas County’s stimulus to jumpstart the engineering and environmental work. The project would pull junior water rights off the South Platte River near Sterling in high runoff years, fill the new reservoirs, and pipe drinking water down to high-growth cities such as Parker, Castle Rock and others…

A second big request on Douglas County’s plate is a $20 million bid from Renewable Water Resources, which has raised near-unanimous opposition to its proposal to buy up San Luis Valley groundwater, pipe it over the Front Range, and sell it to drinking water providers in Douglas County and other growing communities…

Douglas County held the first of a planned series of live and streamed town halls discussing the American Rescue Plan requests [December 9, 2021], with staff providing information on each of the $280 million in proposals so far. More town halls are planned for early 2022, county spokeswoman Wendy Manitta Holmes said. County commissioners have months of deliberations to go before they allocate the $68.2 million.

The ambitious, multi-county water projects could be in for disappointment. County officials are not sure yet what restrictions the U.S. Treasury could put on stimulus spending, Holmes said. County staff has asked the Treasury department to provide more guidance on, for example, whether DougCo’s share of the stimulus could be spent in other counties for sprawling projects like the water diversions.

Other, simpler water projects making up the bulk of the $247 million in category requests include water treatment, reservoir and pipeline capacity, and sewage disposal, from Highlands Ranch to Sedalia. Seeking citizen input on the biggest priorities is exactly the reason for the extended town halls, Holmes said…

Parker’s proposal, a joint project with the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District and Castle Rock’s water department, notes that population growth in Parker alone will balloon the city from 60,000 residents to 160,000 in coming years. The South Platte diversions would fill two new reservoirs to be built in farm and ranch country straddling Interstate 76, one called Iliff and the other, in a Phase 2, called Fremont Butte…

As for competition from the San Luis Valley pipeline, Redd said, “We’re not real fans of the project.” There are too many political hurdles to the proposal, and the valley is already suffering from water depletion, Redd said.