Geothermal Could Meet 6% of U.S. Electrical Needs by 2025

Geothermal resources could supply more than 30,000 MW of power by 2025, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) told the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee earlier this week. This would meet 6 percent of today’s total U.S. electricity needs, supplying consumers, boosting the economy, and stabilizing energy costs. But, GEA testified, budget cuts would be a major setback for new development.

GEA warned that proposals to close down federal research programs would cut this figure in half. Its members estimated that of the projected 30,000 MW, “one-half is highly dependent upon continued research and technological development supported through DOE’s research program.” “The loss of DOE’s program would be a major setback to both the pace and extent to which we can expand our use of this important renewable energy resource,” said Karl Gawell, GEA’s executive director. GEA projections show a substantial expansion of geothermal power. About 2,800 MW today are in production in four states: California, Nevada, Utah and Hawaii. GEA projects that utility scale power production will expand to include Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. In addition, GEA projects expansion of new distributed generation technologies and nonelectric “direct uses” of geothermal resources by farms, businesses and communities. New geothermal development, states the release, could bring in more than $70 billion of new investment to the economy, producing 130,000 permanent full time jobs and stimulating significant construction and manufacturing employment. GEA estimated that this level of renewable power production would annually offset 266 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions compared to providing electricity from coal plants, equal to the annual CO2 emissions from 41 million automobiles — 30 percent of all automobiles in use in 2003.

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