If current projects under development are completed, the U.S. could have as much as 10 gigawatts of geothermal power at its disposal, according to a new report from the Geothermal Energy Association.
Through several extraction methods, geothermal energy harnesses heat from the Earth for the purpose of heating and cooling buildings or for power generation. Many have argued for years that geothermal is an underestimated resource for clean electricity.
There are currently 144 new geothermal projects under development in 14 states. If successful, those projects could add up to 7,100 megawatts (7 gigawatts) of power to the existing 3,100 megawatts of U.S. geothermal energy output. That would give the U.S. a total of roughly 10 gigawatts of power capacity from geothermal energy, according to data from the GEA's report (PDF) released Wednesday.
"At the high end, that would be enough baseload power to supply about 20 percent of California's total electric power in 2008--or enough generating capacity to supply the power needs of about 7.2 million people," the GEA said.
The GEA gives a state-by-state breakdown, listing how many new geothermal projects are under way and the potential amount of energy they could collectively generate. Nevada leads with 64 new projects that could add a geothermal capacity of up to 3,473 megawatts. California, Oregon, Utah, and Idaho follow respectively, with capacities ranging from 238 MW to 2,436 MW. Here's the breakdown:
Nevada, 64 projects, potential 1,876-3,473 MW California, 37 projects, potential 1,842-2,436 MW Oregon, 13 projects, potential 317-368 MW
Utah, 10 projects, potential 272-332 MW… Read more