Geothermal Opportunity Study Released

The US Federal Government has released a report that identifies opportunities for near-term development of geothermal energy in the western United States.

Washington D.C. – April 16, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The report, titled “Opportunities for Near-Term Geothermal Development on Public Lands in the Western United States,” was prepared by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). “The Interior Department is working with Department of Energy to locate and identify sources of geothermal energy potential on public lands,” said Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management Rebecca Watson. “This report will help us to make important decisions for the development of domestic sources of energy.” Geothermal is a clean domestic energy source that is available 24 hours a day. The average geothermal power plant produces electricity 90 percent of the time, compared with 65 percent to 75 percent for coal and nuclear-powered plants. The BLM and NREL used Geographic Information System (GIS) data to assess geothermal energy potential on BLM lands in the West. The assessment identifies the BLM’s planning units with the highest potential for developing geothermal resources. The assessment of these high potential areas focuses on BLM’s knowledge of, and experience with, geothermal resources in western states. The BLM experts identified 35 top-pick sites in 18 planning units throughout six western states that have high potential for near-term geothermal development. California – 9 top picks; Oregon – 7 top picks; New Mexico – 3 top picks; Utah – 3 top picks; Nevada – 10 top picks; Washington – 3 top picks. “These areas that are high in geothermal sources will provide a unique opportunity for development of clean geothermal power that will help to create jobs and provide for rural economic development,” Watson said. “Developing our geothermal sources will also help to reduce America’s dependency on foreign sources of energy.” “Top picks” refers to those areas selected by BLM experts that have been defined as having the greatest geothermal potential for rapid development in terms of power generation. “Near-Term” development means that geothermal potential is high and conditions are favorable so that power generation could be developed within the next 2 years. Currently more than 2/3 of the top pick areas are addressed in existing BLM Land Use Plans. Once environmental analysis is complete, these areas would be ready for the geothermal industry to develop.

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