Geothermal potential in California untapped
The leading geothermal industry group, Geothermal Energy Association, has issued a status report on the state’s geothermal resources that says they are still largely untapped just as the California Air Resources Board is examining their new scoping plan for implementing the state’s climate law.
Geothermal power is “a viable, cost effective, and plentiful renewable energy option to meet California’s climate goals,” GEA told CARB. Utilizing the Golden State’s geothermal resources can help achieve “carbon reductions with the least total cost and highest power system reliability,” GEA reports.
In brief, the status report shows that:
– Geothermal power generated 4.4 percent of total system power in California in 2012, but could have generated substantially more;
– geothermal power produces some of the lowest life-cycle emissions when compared to almost every other energy technology and even some renewables;
– depending on the resource characteristics and plant design, geothermal power plants can be engineered to provide firm and/or flexible power;
– even with high upfront capital costs, geothermal power is a competitive renewable energy source;
– about half of California’s identified geothermal resources are still untapped, and significant resources may remain undiscovered;
– geothermal power is key to achieving an expanded renewable power portfolio at the lowest total cost;
– new technology will reduce geothermal power risks and can expand the supply curve to make more resources commercially available;
– the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area (SSKGRA) is considered by many to be the best opportunity for growth in California in the near term;
– distributed generation geothermal power and heating projects have potential in a number of areas, but are not eligible for the type of support provided other distributed generation projects;
– challenges to growth of utility scale plants include weak demand, inadequate transmission, permitting delays, and a lack of coordinated policies.
The Geothermal Energy Association is a trade association comprised of U.S. companies that support the expanded use of geothermal energy and are developing geothermal resources worldwide for electrical power generation and direct-heat uses.
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