deCroce blog of photography

Alternative Energy Photography

Energy photography depicts beautiful scene.
Towering wind turbines act as sentries to Granite Peak
Alternative Energy Photography
Wind energy turbines and a geothermal drilling derrick stand erect in Utah’s alternative energy vally near Milford. After a late winter storm, newly fallen snow and morning frost gave spectacular vistas helping to warm the chilled air.

Photography for Green Energy

Energy Photography
Alternative energy photography is on rich display in this conventional, rural, Utah valley. Solar panals, wind energy turbines and geothermal energy coexist in this single view near Milford in southwestern Utah. The Cape Station geothermal operation (foreground) by Fevro Energy will deliver 400 megawatts 24/7 of carbon free energy. But compared to the visible footprint of solar collectors and wind farm, it’s hardly noticeable.

Having a portfolio rich with commercial industrial photography attracts new commissions and new clients. And now, I’m thrilled to have landed some exciting alternative energy photography shoots.
With climate crisis on everyone’s mind, it’s heartening to photograph green energy operations and even better, to have my son Levi DeCroce along. He started assisting last year as my VO (visual observer) for aerial photography.
FAA requires all licensed remote pilots to have present a visual observer for unmanned drone flights. And since energy photographers increasingly rely on aerial video and still photography to help tell the story, it made sense for Levi to learn.
As you can see by the stunning cover image he made of an alternative energy landscape view, Levi is developing in photography as well.

Alternative Energy Landscape Photography
Geothermal drill site casings photographed in front of snow crested Mount Granite near Milford Utah. Fevro Energy’s Cape Station will be the world’s largest enhanced geothermal plant by 2028. 
Photograph by Levi deCroce

Alternative Energy Hub –– Beaver County Utah

Just north of Milford in southwestern Utah, is a remarkable scene –– a next-generation geothermal energy operation smack in the middle of a giant wind energy farm right in front of a large field of solar energy panels all in the heart of a conventional rural valley.


This article showcases alternative energy photography for a green geothermal energy company –– Fevro Energy.

Also featured later in this article, are some gorgeous images from energy photoshoots last summer for The Navajo Transitional Energy Company. NTEC is investing heavily in carbon capture and land reclamation.

Beaver County Utah has become a hotbed for alternative energy, according to Tim Fitzpatrick at The Salt Lake Tribune. Fevro Energy’s Cape Station operation is set to become the world’s largest enhanced geothermal plant by 2028. It is projected to deliver 400 megawatts 24/7 of carbon free energy daily. First Wind Energy built the 102 MW Milford Wind Power Project over a decade ago. And US Solar Fund acquired the 128 MW Milford Solar Project from Longroad Energy Partners. Compared to a single wind turbine generating 2MW per day or a one acre solar farm daily yield of 10MW, geothermal output from the Cape Station will be substantial. And geothermal energy continues to produce at night and on calm days. 


Energy landscape Photography
Thermal pools in Yellowstone National Park for travel photography article.

Photography For Alternative Energy – Geothermal

Before our photoshoot for Fevro Energy, I really didn’t know what a geothermal energy site would be. I imagined they might look like the geothermal pools in Yellowstone that Levi and I shot last summer for travel photography portfolios. But as illustrated in this article, geothermal energy photography is similar to other industrial photography gigs and energy photoshoots for oil and gas. Fevro has adopted techniques like hydraulic fracturing from petroleum energy in order to increase yield.


We chose to make it a road trip to take in some of Utah’s beauty and created some fine-art landscape photography along the way. And it didn’t take long to be reminded about the vastness of western America. When my navigator, Levi, decided to take a shortcut over a mountain pass through howling wind, we saw a sign that read: “Snowdrifts Not Plowed”. Driving through the drifts would not normally be daunting but we had not seen another traveller, a town or even a house in a long while.

Weary of the travel, we arrived late at night in the midst of a wet, late-winter snowstorm. But as it turned out, the morning frost and new snow on the nearby mountains made our photoshoot even more remarkable.

Alternative energy photography is not dissimilar from great landscape photography. After the photographer locates a sensational scene, they wait (sometime days) for a spectacular balance of light and shadow while hoping for a low hanging cloud or a bald eagle to fly by.
The Making of Geothermal Alternative Energy Photography

Photoshoots for commercial and industrial commissions, like this alternative energy photoshoot on location can present unexpected challenges. Without detailed planning, things can go awry. As a long-time seasoned pro, I’ve made every mistake in the book on previous commercial photoshoots, … and written a few new ones too. But dealing with adversity is part of what a professional photographer does. Part of the fun is to solve the puzzle anew with each assignment and plan for mishaps. So I always bring an extra camera body, more than enough memory cards, plenty of batteries, chargers and my passport (just in case my client needs a two week photoshoot in Fiji).

Scheduling is sometimes problematic too. This photoshoot with Fevro Energy was originally scheduled for the previous week. But high winds made it unsafe to fly the mavic Pro 3 drone for aerial video and still photography. While the newly fallen snow did give us stunning long shots, strong winds left behind thousands of tattered and torn tumbleweeds. The drilling site was puddled and muddy with the melting snow.
Savvy industrial energy photographers prevail through sleet or howling blow and even snow;-)
Working through adversity is actually part of the fun. And… my clients are always happily impressed.

Alternative industrial photography for geothermal energy photographer at work.

After we delivered imagery to Fevro Energy, strategic communications specialist Chelsea Anderson had this to say on Google:

"We are thrilled with the photographs from Edward! 
We hired him to take photos of our work site and employees and he went above and beyond. 
He is great to work with, completely understood our needs, and delivered photos beyond our expectations. Not only did he quickly respond to our questions he also provided the photos in a timely manner. We can't wait to work with him again!"
What Is Geothermal Energy

From Greek, geo means earth and thermo means heat. So to say “geothermal heat” is redundantly saying earth heat heat. US Energy Information Administration explains “Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source because heat is continuously produced inside the earth.” Geothermal heat is used for bathing, for heating buildings, and for generating electricity. “Traditional geothermal power uses natural steam or very hot water trapped in deep rock formations.”

But in places like the western United States, where hot geothermal rock is too dry and impermeable for traditional methods, engineers and geologists have innovated a technique called enhanced geothermal energy – EGS. The first use of enhanced geothermal methods materialized at Fenton Hill New Mexico in The Dry Rock project during the 1970s.

US Department of Energy explains: “In an EGS, fluid is injected deep underground under carefully controlled conditions, which cause pre-existing fractures to re-open, creating permeability. Increased permeability allows fluid to circulate throughout the now-fractured hot rock, and the fluid becomes hot as it circulates. Operators pump the hot water up to the surface, where it generates electricity for the grid.” 

Alternative Energy Photo SW Utah


Professional Energy Photographer, Edward DeCroce climbs geothermal derrick durring alternative energy photoshoot.
Photographer Edward DeCroce follows Fevro site security boss Horace up derrick stairs. Photograph by Levi DeCroce

Solar panels in foreground face towards First Wind Energy turbines and Fevro Energy’s geothermal energy operation in this aerial drone perspective.
Fevro Energy co-founder Jack Norbeck in portrait at Cape Station in southwestern Utah March 2024.

Destination Unknown

“The human epoch that began in biological evolution 
and passed into pre-, then recorded, history 
is now more than ever before in our hands.”
Edward O. Wilson

To our understanding, humans have known no other home than the planet we call Earth. We emerged from Africa over 300,000 years ago. Yet since the advent of industrialization –– a short 200 years –– we seem hell-bent on wrecking our Garden of Eden. We humans are amazing in our knack for invention. Cunning innovation and constant yearning for automation has eased human struggle to survive. In many ways, an average person lives a more comfortable life in the 21st century than the queens and kings of days of old. But could human desire for ease, automation and fortune also be our Achilles heal?

In the pursuit of self-perpetuation for all humanity, one set of questions rises above all others:

Is earth’s delicate tapestry destined for catastrophe?

Are humans actually capable of collectively coalescing for a single purpose?
 
Is it in the realm of possibility that the entire species will join to harness habits and heal mother nature?

Will we empower her and allow her innate memory to once again flower in synergy with our use of energy?

  Will climate gawkers no longer saunter to squander precious time, enacting the prime infraction, the crime of inaction?

With declining clime, the sustainability of humanity is in precarious balance.

Edward DeCroce


Carbon Capture Alternative Energy
At the Four Corners Power Plant in New Mexico, carbon capture will reduce about 90% of CO2 emissions.

Common Ground

Being a photographer for energy companies has given me an uncommon perspective. Since my style is to suggest conversation considered controversial, I prod to hear opinions. Over the years, I’ve heard a few that say that climate change is merely an invention by Al Gore. And on the flip side, I hear hypocritical climate activists preach the evils of energy production whilst jetting off to a Bali beach tour.

But the common ground we stand on remains solid. Almost everyone opines in surprisingly similar ways, roughnecks and energy CEOs alike. Bosses, workers and investors that I’ve talked with believe climate change is a threatening our way of life. They tell me that action is overdue.


So it’s invigorating to see the work being done by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company – NTEC. These images from the Navajo Coal Mine and the Spring Creek Mine in Montana were made on our photoshoots last summer for NTEC. They’re a part of this article on alternative energy photography because, like Fevro Energy, they represent hope. 

At The Four Corners Power Plant in New Mexico, carbon capture techniques will reduce carbon emissions by 90%. And the work being done in land reclamation is remarkable too.

Atrenative Energy Photography Land Reclamation
Ongoing land reclamation operations at the Navajo Coal Mine in New Mexico. This aerial drone panorama shows mine activity on far left, pile of topsoil in ceter-right and on completed reclamation on left side of image.

Hope Is The Dope

If words can provoke us to grope for meaning inside suspended hope, the conscious cost of change will not exhaust us. 
An action pallet to mend our planet can awaken a declaration to limit mistaken direction.
Hope is the dope for the next chapter of human evolution. 


About Pictures and Words


I love creating these stories. But, anyone who writes for newspapers, blogs or newsletters knows they’re a tremendous time suck. I still have 10 stories to start from last year.


As writer and photographer of the articles for this blog, my aim is to tell the stories of my professional photoshoots without bias. But I always get jazzed about the client during photoshoots. And sometimes, I let show my excitement for projects like this one on Fevro Energy.

They say every writer needs a great editor. And that’s true for photographers too. Editing pictures is now a synonym for what used to be called “retouching”, but I’m talking about the kind of photo-editors at magazines like National Geographic or organizations like The Nature Conservancy (side note: the April FB cover of Nature Conservancy is by world-class nature photographer Sophia Floyd).

The magic of photo-editors is in knowing which images (out of thousands of choices) will best illustrate a story or a photo-essay. Their secret-sauce lies in gently guiding a viewer to see with fresh eyes, as if they made the image themselves.
I write this because I often struggle with editing which images to use. As evidenced in this article, I sometimes include an abundance (or maybe overabundance?) of images.

Free Photoshoot

It’s difficult to analyze one’s own portfolio, right? So I’ve decided to pitch a promotion.
Readers who respond will be eligible to receive a complimentary photoshoot by yours truly (we’ll pick a name out of a hat or whatever). Just take a look at image galleries on my main website DeCroce photography and let me know your thoughts. The websites are designed to be viewed on a large screen not a dinky phone screen.
I’m interested to hear about initial impression, favorite images, navigation, edit ideas or anything else that jumps into your mind. Simply write back to the email on the contact page, or leave a comment. If you think the site sucks, your critique might accidentally get lost. (JK) Just use the email found on the contact page or leave a comment.
Here are a few links to portfolio pages, but feel free to browse and respond anything on the site:

https://decrocephotography.com/portfolios/industrial-workers-photography
https://decrocephotography.com/portfolios/industrial-photography
https://decrocephotography.com/portfolios/energy-photography

Thanks for reading;-)
Edward

Related articles from Edward on Industrial photography, energy photography and climate are linked below:

https://www.decroceblog.com/2016/03/09/turtles-climate-change/
https://www.decroceblog.com/2017/10/31/commercial-photography-oil-gas/
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