Samuel Weatherwax is an insulation and coatings technician for a geothermal power plant.
Solar and wind power may get the headlines when it comes to renewable energy. But another type of clean power is heating up in the hills just north of Sonoma wine country. The Geysers, the world's largest power-producing geothermal field, has been providing electricity for roughly 850,000 Northern California households, and is set to expand even further.
Last summer I visited the Netherlands, the original home of the windmill. Surprisingly, I saw hardly any of the quaint structures we associate with Dutch wind power. One hundred years ago Holland had about 10,000 wooden windmills dotting its landscape. Today, barely 10% remain.
When I first began researching this story for QUEST, I was surprised that I hadn't heard more about geothermal energy. It's never lumped into that renewable energy laundry list that's recited by politicians and journalists alike — you know, "…solar, wind, hydroelectric and biofuels". But it turns out that geothermal energy has really great potential.
When we started working on this project, we thought it would be easy to find people to interview: D.I.Y.ers with a passion for sustainable building who were testing out new technologies in their backyards. We found a handful of great subjects, but we never quite tapped into that centralized hub we'd envisioned. And that, it turned out, was the point. When you're a D.I.Y.er, you tend to D things Y.
Just a few minutes outside of San Jose, you'll find a place to explore 100 million years of history. Alum Rock Park, created in 1872 as the first municipal park in California, offers both ancient rocks and new geologic changes (and lots of nice trails and wildlife, too). Despite its longevity and proximity to a populous urban area, it remains one of the less-visited jewels in the Bay Area's crown.