The U.S. geothermal power industry continued strong growth in 2009, according to a new report by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA). The April 2010 US Geothermal Power Production and Development Update showed 26-percent growth in new projects under development in the United States in the past year, with 188 projects underway in 15 states that could produce as much as 7,875 MW of new electric power.
When completed, these projects will add over 7,000 MW of baseload
power capacity; enough to provide electricity for 7.6 million people, or 20
percent of California’s total power needs, and roughly equivalent to the total
power used in California from coalfired power plants. "Geothermal power
can be a critical part of the answer to global warming," according to
GEA's Executive Director, Karl Gawell. "For example, California could achieve its 2020 goal for
global warming emissions reductions just by keeping energy demand level and
replacing its coalfired generation with geothermal," he asserts.
continued to be the leading state for new geothermal energy, with more than
3,000 MW under development. The fastest growing geothermal power states were Utah, which quadrupled its geothermal power under development;
New Mexico, which tripled; Idaho,
which doubled; and Oregon,
which reported a 50-percent increase. In addition, Louisiana,
Mississippi and Texas all reported their first geothermal
projects compared with a year earlier.
“These geothermal power projects will create substantial
sources of new employment across the country,” says GEA Executive Director Karl
Gawell. “Not only are we seeing more and more development and hiring in places
with a long history of geothermal like Nevada
and California, but for the first time, these
jobs are being created in the Gulf Coast, in states such as Louisiana
Along with a huge number of new construction jobs, geothermal power also
creates many permanent positions that can never be outsourced.” Together, the
direct, indirect and induced employment created by these projects is estimated
by GEA to be 29,750 permanent jobs and 112,000 personyears of construction and
manufacturing employment.” According to GEA, the projects under development
will represent capital investment of more than $35 billion when completed.
New geothermal power projects are in progress in 15 states
from the Pacific to the Gulf
Coast. GEA identified new
projects in Alaska, Arizona,
Nevada, New Mexico,
In addition to large utility-scale power projects, the survey continued to show
expanding interest in small power systems (under 1MW) with projects in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oregon and Wyoming.
"The federal stimulus, tax incentives, and strong state
renewable standards continue to fuel the growth in geothermal power," says
Gawell. "Many geothermal developers are building several projects in the US,
and the cash grant provides them an effective incentive that quickly reduces
their debt an important fact in the present economic recession." GEA notes
that all of the geothermal power projects coming on-line in 2009 utilized the
new federal tax grant provisions authorized in the stimulus bill. In addition,
four of the top five states with geothermal power under development have
substantial renewable standards. Those states in order of geothermal
development and their state renewable requirement are Nevada
(25%), California (33%), Utah
(20%), Idaho (none), and Oregon (25%).
The report also documents federal stimulus funding in the
geothermal industry, which will result in more than $600 million of research
into new technology at 135 projects in 25 states over the next 2 years.
“Stimulus funding will support geothermal development in states where
geothermal technology presents vast new opportunities,” notes Dan Jennejohn the
author of the report. DOE stimulus funding has been targeted to support
development of enhanced geothermal systems technology, new drilling and
exploration techniques, geothermal power production from oil and gas wells, and
other industry needs.
“In our survey last fall, we were concerned that the
progress of new projects appeared to be stalling due to financing and
permitting problems,” Jennejohn notes. “Now, along with a number of new
projects, we are seeing projects continue rapid development indicating that
growth is returning across the industry.”
The full report is available at http://www.geoenergy.org.
Geothermal Grows 26 Percent in 2009
May 1, 2010