The Utah Geological Survey has found potential for a new type of geothermal energy in Utah. Hundreds of megawatts of energy at its test location could be tapped, if the estimates are correct. (This is a conservative estimate.)
Utah’s Black Rock Desert basin was the site of nine drilling experiments by US geologists to determine if it is a suitable site for geothermal energy development. They found sufficient differences in temperatures in the rock at various depths to rate it a potential geothermal energy discovery. Temperatures could be 500 degrees Fahrenheit at 13,000 feet.
With the type of geothermal plant that could be used there, all water would be sent back into the reservoir once it cooled down, so there would be no water consumption. It has been described as a favorable site for geothermal because it is near an electricity transmission line to California, where power costs twice as much as in Utah. A large wind farm and a coal power plant are also nearby, so infrastructure that could accommodate a new geothermal plant already exists to an encouraging extent. The flat, very open land there is filled with cheatgrass and sagebrush.
This recent bit of clean energy news is not just about Utah though. The particular type of terrain exists elsewhere in the West, and these other locations might have geothermal potential as well.
“There are other potentially hot basins across the Basin and Range province that need to be investigated using this exploration model. We have identified the Steptoe Valley and Mary’s River–Toano basins in northeast Nevada as obvious geothermal targets,” said Dr. Rick Allis, UGS Director.
There are two geothermal facilities in Utah currently — Fort Cove and Roosevelt Hot Springs.
Image Credit: Ikluft, Wiki Commons