At a time when the U.S. geothermal industry is seeing a resurgence of new investment, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) released a new publication on the socioeconomics of geothermal energy, "A Handbook on the Externalities, Employment, and Economics of Geothermal Energy," which provides information about the costs, benefits and other effects of geothermal development on people and communities around the country.
"Representing over a year of work and having undergone extensive reviews, this report solidly documents the many benefits of expanding geothermal energy use," states Karl Gawell, executive director of GEA.
For example, according to the "Handbook," a typical, 50-Megawatt (MW) geothermal plant, whose site development and exploration costs will total under $140 million, will produce an economic output of nearly $750 million over 30 years, of which more than $20 million will be delivered directly to the federal, state and county governments where the plant is located. That same 50-MW plant will produce 212 fulltime jobs and 800 person-years of construction and manufacturing work. "Considering the fact that over 2,000 megawatts of geothermal power were reported under construction in 2005, expanded geothermal power production will mean tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits and thousands of new jobs," notes Alyssa Kagel, author of the report.
Geothermal plays an important role in facilitating sustainable development, the "Handbook" notes: "Geothermal plants provide long-term, stable, well-paying jobs, produce nearly zero air emissions and associated health impacts, and supply millions of dollars to local, state and federal economies through decades of reliable, renewable, consistent energy production." The "Handbook" is the first of its kind to bring together the basic socioeconomic aspects of geothermal energy. Other topics discussed in the publication include current and potential geothermal generation, national security issues, job quality, geothermal energy and rural America, tax credit information, financing, the levelized cost of geothermal power, geothermal compared to fossil fuels and other renewables, and more.
The document can be downloaded from the GEA Web site at