Today’s U.S. geothermal industry is a $2-billion per-year enterprise involving over 2800 MW of electricity generation capacity, about 620 MW of thermal energy capacity in direct-use applications such as indoor heating, greenhouses, food drying, and aquaculture, and over 7,300 MW of thermal energy capacity from geothermal heat pumps. The international market for geothermal power development could exceed a total of $25 billion for the next 10 to 15 years. At the present time, U.S. technology and industry stand at the forefront of this international market.
Geothermal energy benefts the nation by helping to solve three problems— energy reliability and security, economic development, and air quality.
Geothermal resources can help address the shortage of new electricity generating capacity in the United States cited in the National Energy Policy Act of 2005. As a baseload generation source, geothermal energy is well proven and reliable.
Geothermal power plants emit little carbon dioxide, very low quantities of sulfur dioxide, and no nitrogen oxides. U.S. geothermal generation annually offsets the emission of 22 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 200,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 110,000 tons of particulate matter from conventional coal-fred plants.
Use of domestic geothermal energy resources has substantial strategic value for the nation. Geothermal resources can contribute to: