/>

Renewable energy on Indian land (photos)

The Jemez in New Mexico and Southern Utes in Colorado are among Native American tribes seeking to develop renewable energy on their reservations.

headshots_martin_laMonica_140x100.jpg
Martin LaMonica
DSC_7039.jpg
1 of 6 Michael Albrecht/TBA Power

Geothermal resource

The Jemez tribe in New Mexico is seeking to develop a geothermal power system on its reservation west of Albuquerque. The project, funded in part by a nearly $5 million Department of Energy grant, is being managed by TBA Power and has brought technical geothermal training to at least six members of the tribe. The Jemez tribe is also seeking to develop a four-megawatt solar farm to earn revenue. A recently proposed Department of Interior rule is designed to make it easier for Indians to lease land for renewable energy projects. See related story on renewable energy and Native American Indian tribes.

S1057561.JPG
2 of 6 Michael Albrecht/TBA Power

Thumper truck

The first phase of the Jemez project is to assess the geothermal resources available, which was done over the past year and a half. In the coming months, they intend to drill very deep in the earth, between 5,000 feet and 6,000 feet, with the hopes of tapping underground heat to make electricity. Here is a "thumper truck," part of the seismic equipment needed to create a three-dimensional picture of the underground temperatures, aquifers, and fissures in the rock.

Seismic_Monitoring_Network.JPG
3 of 6 Michael Albrecht/TBA Power

Seismic monitoring

In addition to creating a detailed picture of the subsurface, the project installed a network of seismic monitors like this one. One concern of geothermal drilling is that it could lead to tremors, which has derailed geothermal projects in Europe and California. Technical project manager Michael Albrecht is confident that drilling at this site will not increase seismic activity, but the group installed monitors to collect data and demonstrate it.

solix-facility2.jpg
4 of 6 Solix Biosystems

Algae farm

Another Indian tribe, the Southern Utes in Colorado, is making investments in different types of renewable energy. The tribe, which has become wealthy from its oil and gas resources, is developing a wind farm with the Shonone and has invested in an algae startup, Solix Biosystems. The company built its demonstration facility, pictured here, on the Southern Ute reservation.

Solix_AGS4000.JPG
5 of 6 Solix Biosystems

Solix bioreactor

Like many algae startups, Solix has not seen the rapid technical progress or sales it had originally hoped for when it was formed a few years. Now it has shifted focus to building test systems, including this Lumian AGS4000, for universities and other researchers. Its goal now is to sell equipment to algae growers, rather than to process the algae and sell fuel and other products themselves.

Solix_AGS260.JPG
6 of 6 Solix Biosystems

Algae bags

One of the technical challenges with growing algae is maintaining a rapid growth rate and not having "culture die-off" where the algae stop growing and die. Here is a photo of the plastic bags in Solix's bioreactors which take in carbon dioxide and water to stimulate growth. Each end of the bag lifts periodically to send some algae off for collection and then processing into sellable products.

More Galleries

Nintendo Switch: The 36 best games to play in 2021

More Galleries

Nintendo Switch: The 36 best games to play in 2021

37 Photos
55 weird objects seen on Mars, explained

More Galleries

55 weird objects seen on Mars, explained

57 Photos
Volkswagen's new T7 Multivan looks awesome

More Galleries

Volkswagen's new T7 Multivan looks awesome

10 Photos
2022 Kia Telluride looks basically the same as before

More Galleries

2022 Kia Telluride looks basically the same as before

18 Photos
Toyota Land Cruiser J300 flagship is now forbidden fruit

More Galleries

Toyota Land Cruiser J300 flagship is now forbidden fruit

17 Photos
2022 Ford Maverick: This super-affordable hybrid pickup could be a gamechanger

More Galleries

2022 Ford Maverick: This super-affordable hybrid pickup could be a gamechanger

66 Photos
2022 Honda Civic: Sharper performance and a revolutionary cabin

More Galleries

2022 Honda Civic: Sharper performance and a revolutionary cabin

69 Photos