The installed capacity of geothermal power will triple in the US

The United States continues to lead the world’s countries in online geothermal energy capacity and continues to be one of the principal countries to increase its geothermal growth.

In 2007 geothermal energy accounted for 4% of renewable energy-based electricity consumption in the United States. As of September 2009, geothermal electric power generation is occurring in eight U.S. states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

Other states, such as Oregon, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi are soon to be added to the list. As of October 2009, the United States has a total installed capacity of 3152.72 MW.

The US geothermal industry will triple in the coming years, reaching an installed capacity of 10,000 MW, providing electricity to 10 million people in 14 states. This statement by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) was contained in its report US Geothermal Power Production & Development Update, which emphasizes how, even after this goal, there’s huge potential for industry growth.

Currently, geothermal power is the main source of renewable energy in California, and it is harnessed in 7 other states for a total of 3,153 MW. Projects under development, which amount to 6,443 MW, involve 4 other states in addition to the 8 already active in this field.

Geothermal energy will experience unprecedented growth in the coming years. While stimulus money has been driving much of our recent growth, we now see that the development of new geothermal technology starts making many projects economically attractive in itself, said Karl Gawell, GEA’s executive director.

The number of projects that were launched in 2009 increased by 46%, while employment grew by 33%, particularly through allocations and benefits that originated from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (the new rules for economic recovery that were enacted by the Obama administration). The GEA report identifies 132 geothermal projects for which the government has allocated $342 million. Nevada is the state with the greatest amount of projects, totalizing $70 million.

The most attention-getting emerging technologies are the so-called third-generation enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), as well as the geothermal and hydrocarbon co-production, to exploit energy from hot fluids in oil and gas reservoirs. Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has estimated that for EGS systems alone there will be a potential development of hundreds of thousands of MW.

The U.S. wind energy industry broke every record last year, with 9,922 MW, of which more than 4,000 in the last quarter. However, industry investment in new wind turbines plant components were below expectations

Specifically, the new wind farms installed capacity was 9,922 MW, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Currently, wind power plants have been constructed in 36 of the 50 US states, 14 of them having a capacity of over 1,000 MW.