3 Ways the Pacific Northwest Could be the New Frontier for Geothermal Energy
In the constant search to find new areas to harness renewable energy sources, the focus has now been placed on the Pacific Northwest as a new hotbed of geothermal activity. What makes the region worth nothing when it comes to the energy from beneath the earth and how could it the industry’s next leading region?
3. Industry experts believe it will be a new frontier.
When looking for answers, just turn to the experts.
The Geothermal Resources Council is holding its annual meeting in Portland, Oregon this week, primarily because of the potential seen in the region. The event will bring international attention to the region, with more than 1,300 attendees from 25 countries, to a region that’s already utilizing geothermal energy in an effective capacity.
By holding their conference in Portland, the GRC is effectively throwing its support behind the region as the next big thing in geothermal.
2. The time is right.
For the Pacific Northwest, timing is very much on its side, In the 70s and 80s, the region went unexplored because power prices were exceptionally cheap because of the dominance of hydroelectricity.
“They got to Oregon, Washington and Idaho and they saw the cheap hydropower you had,” Karl Galwell, the GEA’s executive director, told NPR. “And they said, ‘Nothing is going to compete with hydro. Let's spend our money in California, Nevada and elsewhere.’”
Now, however, with those areas almost entirely explored and developed, the Pacific Northwest is looking like prime real estate for geothermal energy.
1. The potential is actually very great—and it’s already being taken advantage of.
The most important point is that there actually is very high potential for geothermal utilization in the region. Oregon alone has 33 MW of geothermal power online, which is enough to power a small city.
The state currently has 340 MW under development and the U.S. Geological Survey predicts there could be another 1,800 not being utilized. The industry is already taking notice.
Doug Glaspey, president and founder of U.S. Geothermal in Boise, Idaho, discussed his company’s project outside of Vale, Oregon. The company is already moving in to the region, and he believes others should take note.
“If you're going to continue growing a company, you've have to look elsewhere, and that elsewhere right now is the Pacific Northwest,” he said.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.