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Geothermal Energy Development

Description: The Nation has embarked on an aggressive program to develop its indigenous resources of geothermal energy. For more than a decade, geothermal energy has been heralded as one of the more promising forms of energy alternate to oil and gas for electric power generation, but during the last fifteen years, the total capacity in the U.S. has reached 502 MWe, about half the size of a single modern nuclear power plant. And yet, the United States, especially its western and Gulf coast states, is believed to possess a vast resource base of geothermal heat at depths up to 3 to 10 km. Many estimates of these potential resources suitable for the production of electric power have been published and they range over a spectrum of more than a factor of 100. This variation suggests that the potential is essentially unknown. Table 1 gives a range of published forecasts for the year 1985 and the equivalent potential in number of 1000 Mwe power plants and in oil consumption in millions of barrels per day. In view of the estimated construction of about 200 to 250 nuclear power reactors by 1985-90, the pessimistic forecasts clearly show that the contribution of geothermal energy to the Nation's energy supply may indeed be small. The optimistic forecasts represent more than 15% of the total electric power requirements estimated for the year 1985. The Task Force for Geothermal Energy, in the Federal Energy Administration Project Independence Blueprint report of November 1974, established a national goal for 1985 of 20,000 to 30,000 MWe, the latter value representing an equivalent energy supply of one million barrels of oil per day. This goal was clearly a compromise between what is worth a national effort and what might be realistically achieved. The potential for adding or replacing the equivalent of ...
Date: November 3, 1975
Creator: Kruger, Paul
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department