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.