Study Finds Extensive, Undeveloped Geothermal Resource in Western U.S.
A new report finds extensive undeveloped geothermal resources in fourteen Western states–Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. An Assessment of Geothermal Resource Development Needs in the Western United States, written by Dan Fleischmann for the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), is an in-depth study into the specific barriers and challenges to geothermal energy in the US.
Key conclusions of the 140-page report are:
–The West’s geothermal resources appear to be more extensive than most people believe;
–The unidentified resource base is a significant near-term target of opportunity with up to 150,000 Mw;
–Federal and state policies need to be complementary and support a clear path for new project development;
–Federal programs and tax incentives will make a significant difference; and
–Federal efforts should be tailored to support the specific needs in each state.
The report documents efforts in each state to develop geothermal resources and defines challenges and opportunities for expanding geothermal energy production in the US. The cross-cutting recommendations made in the report are based upon the feedback received from over 150 different experts including consultants, engineers, project developers, utilities, regulators, clean energy advocates, researchers, and geologists.
According to Fleishmann, the U.S. geothermal industry already has nearly 60 projects and over 2,000 megawatts in the pipeline. Development of these projects will double current capacity.
Other findings point out that geothermal development is one of several resources that can help meet the goals of energy independence and reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants. This approach requires that policymakers:
–Extend the production tax credit (PTC) so that geothermal facilities have the time they need to comply;
–Provide incentives for geothermal distributed generation and direct use projects;
–Fully fund and diversify the U.S.Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Program;
–Facilitate strong interagency coordination on transmission issues, environmental reviews, leasing, and permitting for geothermal development on federal lands; and
–Update reconnaissance for both direct use and power purposes.
The report concludes that the geothermal industry is in a position to make significant progress, take advantage of ongoing momentum, and invest in new technologies to produce additional energy supplies.