U.S. Geothermal Power at Present

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, drying, and aquaculture, and over 7,300 MW of thermal energy capacity from . 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. and industry stand at the forefront of this international market.

100 degree geothermal map

The Nation's geothermal resources represent a huge and viable energy resource, providing the U.S. with various ways to use them and enhance national security, and economic and environmental health.

Benefits of Geothermal Power

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 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 . 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.

Strategic Value

Use of domestic geothermal energy resources has substantial strategic value for the nation. Geothermal resources can contribute to:

  • Clean electricity generation
  • Baseload power production, having established high capacity factors
  • Distributed energy systems with modular and shorter development timeframe advantages
  • Coproduction and enhanced oil recovery, thus gaining more oil
  • Direct-use for building energy needs
  • Ethanol and biodiesel production – thermal energy requirements
  • Hydrogen production – via off-peak electrolysis
  • Rural economic development
  • – aquaculture and horticulture, and lumber drying
  • Mineral recovery, such as silica and zinc – both strategic minerals in short supply.
  • Climate change mitigation – by offsetting needs for fossil-fueled power plants