The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) recently released its policy priorities for the coming year, just after the Energy Information Agency (EIA) projected that geothermal power production would triple in the US by 2035.
For a little background, geothermal energy is thermal energy that comes from the earth. Deep below us, the earth is very hot — we can capture some of that heat as it rises towards us and make use of it for human heating and electricity needs. Geothermal energy is clean, widely available, and consistent/stable. (Slightly more info on geothermal energy and other renewable energy sources is available on our new renewable energy sources page.)
Geothermal energy has a ton of untapped potential for providing Americans with heat and electricity, and the GEA has a number of key policies in mind for making sure we finally make more use of this clean energy option and hit that 2035 EIA estimate, at least.
“Reports continue to forecast tremendous growth for the geothermal industry in the US and worldwide, but economic and policy challenges still exist across the board,” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. “In order for geothermal to reach its true growth potential, leaders and policymakers must understand our industry’s needs on a policy level.”
So, here are those priorities (for 2012):
Secure Longer Term Tax Incentives to Promote Geothermal Energy Development and Industry Stability
- Extend the renewable energy tax credit placed-in-service deadline for new geothermal projects to December 31, 2016 to provide parity with solar projects.
- Support enactment of a long-term geothermal tax credit extension with access to master-limited partnerships (MLPs) or other means to foster monetization of tax credits.
Facilitate Permitting and Construction of the Transmission Capacity Needed to Support Geothermal Energy Development
- Support state and regional transmission policies that will facilitate new geothermal development.
- Support DOE/FERC efforts to facilitate the permitting and construction of needed transmission capacity.
Minimize Leasing and Permitting Delays that Challenge Geothermal Development
- Carry on a constructive dialogue with the BLM and other federal and state agencies to address these issues.
- Strategically engage Congress to help expedite renewable energy permitting on Federal lands.
Launch New National Efforts to Support Geothermal Exploration, Resource Quantification, and Project Development
- Establish an industry/government partnership that would identify and develop new technologies and methods for targeting and drilling geothermal wells with the specific goal of reducing the risk (i.e. reducing time to market and increased probability of success) associated with geothermal project development.
- Build on prior USGS assessments to define, quantify and characterize the US geothermal resource base, including known resources, new and hidden resources, and EGS resources.
- Develop and test methodologies to identify and characterize new and hidden geothermal resources, increasing the pace of their discovery and development for electric power. Also, devise novel approaches and practical technology to alleviate obstacles that presently impede geothermal development, such as water consumption, induced seismicity and residual greenhouse gas emissions.
- Establish a new loan fund or cost sharing program to promote exploratory drilling and to encourage mapping of the nation’s geothermal resource base.
Build On Existing State Renewable Mandates with a National Energy Policy That Promotes Renewables
- Work strategically to support energy policy changes that promote geothermal energy development through a national output based Clean Energy Standard that gives recognition to the value of base load renewable power.
Help Member Companies Expand Their Share of the Growing World Geothermal Market
- Support efforts of federal and state agencies to encourage expanded exports of goods and services by GEA member companies, including the collaborative efforts being fostered by the National Export Initiative.
For more on all this, the GEA International Geothermal Energy Showcase is scheduled for May 23 in Washington, DC. Additionally, the GEA National Geothermal Summit 2012 will be in Sacramento August 7-8.
Image: geothermal power plant courtesy of shutterstock