More Geothermal Sources Found in Nevada

The Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy, part of the University of Nevada, Reno, is observing the way the Earth’s crust is shifting along fault lines using new technology that can locate geothermal energy sources, according to its director.

“The places where the active faults open the earth’s crust, are places that surface water can trickle down far enough to become super-heated,” Lisa Shevenell explained to members of the American Chemical Society at its 61st northwest regional meeting held in June. Geoff Blewitt, a research professor with a joint appointment in the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and Seismological Laboratory, runs one project that uses GPS (global positioning system) technology to find areas that are more likely to have geothermal activity. Because the GPS satellites can measure surface movements less than a millimeter, the technology can be used to pinpoint fault activity with extreme accuracy. This information can help researchers to locate new geothermal sites. When a geothermal site is located, the hot water at the site can be used to move turbines that generate electricity. There are currently 10 active geothermal electrical plants in Nevada, which are producing between five and 10 percent of the state’s electricity. “Geothermal electricity output in Nevada could be increased by 1,500 megawatts in the next 10 years and double that in 20,” Shevenell said. The Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy , which received the Geothermal Community Excellence Award by the Geothermal Energy Association and Geothermal Resources Council, was also recognized by the Department of Energy for having seven out of the top eight peer-reviewed geothermal energy research projects.
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