Blackwell and Richards, the Geothermal Lab coordinator, released a new map earlier this week that documents significant geothermal resources across the United States capable of producing more than three million megawatts of green power — 10 times the installed capacity of coal power plants today.
Funded with a grant from Google.org, sophisticated mapping produced from the research demonstrates that vast reserves of this green, renewable source of power generated from the Earth’s heat are realistically accessible using current technology.
The results of the new research confirm and refine locations for resources capable of supporting large-scale commercial geothermal energy production under a wide range of geologic conditions, including significant areas in the eastern two-thirds of the United States.
By John Roach
Clean, accessible, reliable and renewable energy equivalent to 10 times the installed capacity of coal power plants in the U.S. is available from the hot rocks under our feet, according to the results of a new mapping study.
The energy, called geothermal, is generated from heat found deep below the Earth’s surface. While there’s some geothermal developed in the western U.S., it was previously thought lacking in the eastern portion of the country.
Now, researchers at Southern Methodist University, with funding from Google.org, have compiled geological data from 35,000 sites across the U.S. and found that there’s massive potential all across the country, including significant portions of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S.
What’s more, the energy can be tapped with existing technology, according to the researchers. That’s largely due the recent development of drilling techniques that make methods such as enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) possible.
In EGS, a well is drilled several miles into the Earth’s crust, water is injected down that well to fracture hot rocks, creating thousands of small pathways for the water to flow and be heated. This hot water and steam is then piped to the surface, where it powers a turbine to generate electricity.
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