Geothermal Sees Steady Growth in 2011

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According to the annual update on the geothermal industry from the Geothermal Energy Association, the U.S. geothermal industry continued in 2011 with steady growth, seeing approximately 91 megawatts installed.

The Annual U.S. Geothermal Power Production and Development Report revealed that in 2011 the geothermal industry rose to an installed base of 3,187 MW, more than any other country in the world.

Annual US Geothermal Power Production
Annual US Geothermal Power Production

“As the economy strengthens, our industry is expected to bring even more geothermal capacity online in the coming years,” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. “In 2012, another 100 MW of capacity is expected to come online representing nearly one billion dollars of investment in the clean energy economy.”

“We’ve seen slow but steady growth for geothermal, even in a challenging economy. The drivers for that growth have been state renewable portfolio standards, federal tax credits, DOE demonstration project support, and the fact that utility scale geothermal energy offers clean baseload energy that’s competitive with other clean energy technologies,” Gawell said. “The geothermal industry looks to our policy leaders to provide a stable environment to foster growth that could lead the U.S. toward greater energy independence.”

Gawell continued: “With federal tax credits expiring at the end of 2013, many new geothermal power plants cannot count on federal help. Most plants need between four and eight years of lead time before the geothermal resource is on tap. As Washington debates whether or not to extend renewable energy tax incentives, the industry struggles to continue steady growth. Stable tax credit policies would further enhance this development. State policies also continued to support new development, but need to better recognize the full value of geothermal, particularly its contribution to the reliability of the power system.”

The Big Players

The report outlined all the geothermal electric power generation currently in operation as well as those with geothermal capacity in development. From the former are eight states across the U.S. — Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming — and another seven in deployment — Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas and Washington.

Out of those players California leads the way with 2,615 MW already installed and online and another 2,000 MW of capacity in development.

Nevada, however, takes the prize for sheer number of projects in development with 59.

“The US geothermal industry continues to be actively engaged in a faster growing world market, which is helping many companies through the slack in the U.S.,” Gawell noted.

The full report can be found in PDF form here. May 23 will see geothermal leaders and policy makers meet in Washington, D.C. for the International Geothermal Energy Showcase. For more information on this event follow the link here.

Source: Geothermal Energy Association

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Joshua S Hill

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