Geothermal isn't a new idea, it has been around since 1904; the Larderello, Italy geothermal field is still alive and productive and is one of the best examples of renewability and sustainability. Geothermal is experiencing a resurgence as a vital clean energy source with improved technology, new construction, and renewed investor interest.
In the US, Nevada has the second largest geothermal potential, which could provide 60% of the State's electricity, short term by 2015: 1,488 MW and long-term by 2025: 2,895 MW. This geothermal revolution could meet the energy needs of almost 2 million homes in Nevada.
Today, there is over 10 GW of geothermal energy installed within 24 countries worldwide. This is projected to increase to 11 GW by 2010. The United States is one of the key countries in increasing geothermal growth and continues to be the global leader with about 3,000 MW installed or 30% of the world total generation.
Geothermal is Natural, Clean, Sustainable Power
Geothermal power is a renewable and cost effective alternative to coal, oil and natural gas fired power plants. Geothermal energy, which is defined as "heat from the earth", is natural, clean, renewable, reliable, efficient and inexpensive to operate.
Geothermal reservoirs of heated water occur in regions of high heat flow and fractured, permeable rock formations. Fractures in the earth's crust allow hot groundwater to rise towards the surface where it may become sealed by impermeable rock. Surface manifestations of geothermal reservoirs include hot springs and geysers.
To access the hot water resource, production wells are typically drilled 4000 to 8000 feet below the surface. The heated water is brought to surface where it is flashed to steam; the steam is used to drive the turbines to generate electricity; and, the residual water is cooled and re-injected underground to recharge the reservoir. There are no surface discharges and very little or no emissions.
Geothermal the Alternative Energy of Choice
Geothermal power plants offer outstanding operational efficiency, low cost, base-load energy (24/7, 365 days a year), 95% + capacity for geothermal compared to 65% for hydro, coal, nuclear and 30% for wind. Unlike gas, coal or oil power plants, geothermal plants require no fuel to operate and thus are unaffected by fluctuations in fuel prices.
Benefits of Geothermal Power
- Clean, renewable electricity
- Low or no emissions
- Proven technology
- No fuel required; energy cost not an issue
- Low operating costs
- Base-load power 24 / 7 / 365 days a year