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Geothermal Roundup: California Bills, Consumer Reports, and Japan Development Plans

Players in the geothermal industry have revealed interesting news in the past few weeks, with many areas releasing reports and initiatives that they hope will drive geothermal growth.

California Bills Heat Things Up for Geothermal Industry

August was a big month for renewable energy legislation and proponents of geothermal technology. In California, thanks to the help of the California Geothermal Heat Pump Lobby Coalition (CalGeo), state Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez concluded a successful campaign that involved the passing of no fewer than three geothermal bills: AB 2205 empowers geothermal plants to extract lithium from geothermal brine; AB 2339 (which Perez co-authored) requires the California Energy Commission to implement strategies to speed up the deployment of geothermal heat pumps throughout the state; and AB 1255 allows counties in the DRECP (Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan) to qualify for renewable energy planning grants.

Montana Publishes the Ultimate Geothermal Consumer Guide

A pioneer in geothermal energy, the state of Montana has been leading the charge in renewable energy initiatives for well over 100 years – something that may come as a surprise to anyone who’s never set foot in “Big Sky Country.” Offering evidence of this long history and displaying continued vision in the field of geothermal energy, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has released an extensive, 48-page guidebook for consumers, which discusses everything from groundwater heat pumps to aquaculture. The guidebook can be downloaded free of charge from the state’s website.

Geothermal Hope Springs Eternal for Alaskans

The citizens of Alaska are desperate for energy solutions. Four years in the making, a brand new report dictates to diesel-weary, cash-strapped Alaskans that there are plenty of other options available to them — and more precisely, where those options are the most viable. Titled Fossil Fuel and Geothermal Energy Sources for Local Use in Alaska: Summary of Available Information, the report could lead the way to a light at the end of the tunnel for many beleaguered Alaskan residents. The report (which was intended as a sister publication to the Renewable Energy Atlas of Alaska) points to a broad range of potential development in the areas of renewable energy in specific areas of Alaska, including geothermal resources found in springs on the Denali fault line near Ophir and another thermal spring located near the Reed River. Other natural resources throughout the state point to the possibility of further development in wind and hydroelectric power generation. The report was published by Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources

Japan Vows Elimination of Nuclear Plants by 2030, Turns to Geothermal

In a strategy that will include a significant ramping up of the country’s geothermal energy production, Japan has announced bold plans to eliminate all of its nuclear power plants by the year 2030. According to an article published in The Japan Times Online, Environment Minister Goshi Hosono said the plan targets 3.88 GW of renewable power capacity, which includes harnessing geothermal, wind, biomass and tidal power. The announcement comes 18 months after the Fukishima nuclear crisis, the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl meltdown of 1986. As of today, there are 20 geothermal plants in Japan that provide 0.2 percent of the nation’s total electric generation — but with an estimated 23 GW of available geothermal energy (only 535 MW which are already being tapped) the potential for using Japan’s natural resources to provide safe alternative power is enormous. 

Lead image: Geothermal plant via Shutterstock

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Vince Font is a freelance journalist specializing in the fields of renewable energy, high tech, travel, and entertainment. Read his blog at www.vincefont.com or follow him on Twitter @vincefont.

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