Ask the Experts: Why Hasn't the US Tapped Into Its Geothermal Power Potential More?
With the abundant geothermal potential of the United States, what are the biggest barriers to tapping into that renewable energy source?
Leslie Blodgett, Editor-in-Chief of Geothermal Energy Weekly answers:
"As with other renewable energy technologies in the United States, growth in geothermal energy production is affected by the uncertainty over how long current federal policies will continue to support new development.
This uncertainty affects geothermal planning timelines more than other renewables, as geothermal projects tend to have higher upfront risks and costs and take longer to build. While new geothermal projects will continue to be built, industry growth and the role of U.S. companies in vibrant world markets will hinge on consistent, long-term federal policy support.
Technological breakthroughs are also vital for geothermal growth. Many estimates report that up to 80% of natural geothermal reservoirs are still undiscovered, and significant, sustained investment in developing better technology will reduce the risk of finding and confirming conventional geothermal reservoirs. Building and developing subsurface technology will allow us to economically tap the earth’s heat through the enormous potential of engineered geothermal systems.
If the policy and technology ducks were to line up, the Earth could continue to power life for its inhabitants indefinitely using its own geothermal energy. Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson believed education was a key to protecting the environment, and while it can be difficult to navigate through geothermal politics in the midst of fluctuating oil prices or election campaign games, visit www.geo-energy.org" and subscribe to GEA’s weekly newsletter to stay in the loop."