GEA: 12% Geothermal Projects Under Development in 2011

With geothermal power being produced in nine states—and with 123 projects across 15 states under development—the U.S. leads the world in geothermal energy production, a new report from the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) shows.

The industry group’s “Annual U.S. Geothermal Power Production and Development Report” says that as of March 2011, geothermal power was being produced in nine states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. Other states, such as Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, will soon be producing geothermal power. Total installed geothermal power capacity in the U.S. was about 3,102 MW, the GEA said.

In 2010, only one company, Nevada-based Ormat Technologies, brought its 15-MW Jersey Valley power plant online. The Jersey Valley power plant is located in Pershing County, Nev., and its completion increased installed geothermal capacity in that state to approximately 442 MW.

The dismal numbers of new capacity in 2010 were partially attributed to the economic downturn, “which made potential investors in geothermal project development and construction more risk-averse,” the report said.

In 2011, the geothermal industry is developing 123 confirmed geothermal projects. “When accounting for projects not confirmed (i.e. ‘unconfirmed’) by the developing companies this number increases to 146 projects,” the report said.

Though the majority of the industry remains concentrated in the western U.S., pilot projects are beginning to show development potential further east, the GEA said. “New projects are focusing on generating geothermal electricity from low temperature fluids left over as a byproduct from oil and gas production and harnessing electricity from geothermal fluids under high geological pressure along the Gulf of Mexico.”

Sources: POWERnews, GEA

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