Geothermal Grows 26% in 2009
Apr 13, 2010 - Geothermal Energy Association
|Photo Credit: Enel
The US 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% growth in new projects under development in the United States in the past year, with 188 projects underway in 15 states which could produce as much as 7,875 MW of new electric power.
When completed, these projects will add over 7,000 MW of
|"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 coal-fired generation with geothermal."
baseload power capacity; enough to
provide electricity for 7.6 million people, or 20% of California’s total power needs, and roughly
equivalent to the total power used in California from coal-fired 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 coal-fired generation with
geothermal," he asserted.
Nevada continued to be the leading state for new geothermal energy, with over 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% 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,” said 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
and Mississippi. 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 person-years 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 fifteen states from the Pacific to the Gulf
Coast. GEA identified new projects in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
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
"The federal stimulus, tax incentives, and strong state renewable standards continue to fuel the
growth in geothermal power," said 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 noted 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: 1) Nevada (25%), 2) California (33%),
3) Utah (20%), 4) Idaho (none), and 5) Oregon (25%).
The report also documents federal stimulus funding in the geothermal industry, which will result
in over $600 million of research into new technology at 135 projects in 25 states over the next
two 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 noted. “Now, along with a number
of new projects, we are seeing projects continue rapid development indicating that growth is
returning across the industry.”