Reports & Studies
|MIT Study “The Future of Geothermal Energy”
A 2006 report by MIT entitled The Future of Geothermal Energy concluded that $1 billion properly spent on development of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) could generate 100 GWe (gigawatts, which is 100,000 MW of electricity) or more by 2050 in the United States alone. The MIT report calculated that economically feasible development of US geothermal resources would generate sufficient electric power to provide all the world’s energy needs for several millennia. The MIT panel estimated that with the proper investment in research and development current levels of geothermal power development could meet roughly 10 percent of US electricity needs by 2050.
EGS power plants need well holes deep enough to provide access to a large and constant thermal heat source of at least 300°F. The MIT report estimated that there was enough energy in hard rocks 10 km below the United States to supply all the world’s current needs for 30,000 years. Drilling at this depth is now possible (Exxon announced a 11 km hole).
The MIT study also found the environmental impacts of geothermal development to be markedly lower than conventional fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. The MIT panelists emphasized that federally funded engineering research and development is still needed to lower risks and encourage investment by private companies. The report also noted that meeting water requirements for geothermal plants may be a serious issue, particularly in arid regions. In addition, the report noted the potential for increasing seismic risks from EGS need to be carefully monitored and managed in seismically active regions.
|Geothermal Energy: International Market Update
Reports examining the international status of geothermal development were published by the US Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) in 2007 and by the International Geothermal Association (IGA) in 2005 and 2010. This report builds on those documents to present a view of the world geothermal market, in particular to identify trends in the market, its underlying drivers, and the extent to which the potential of geothermal resources is being utilized for national and international clean energy purposes.
|Energy Poverty: How to make modern energy access universal?
Special early excerpt of the World Energy Outlook 2010 for
the UN General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals
|Geothermal a natural choice
For centuries geothermal springs have been used for bathing, healing and cooking. Only in the early 20th century did people start to consider the heat from inside the Earth as a practical source of energy with huge potential. Geothermal energy is now used to produce electricity on a significant scale, as well as for direct use applications like space heating, greenhouses, and aquaculture.
|Geothermal Energy—Clean Power From the Earth’s Heat
One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is the production of sufficient energy to power the economies of both the developed and developing world. Fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—will continue to supply most energy through at least the first half of the century. However, declining reserves of fossil fuels, increased demand, and environmental constraints will challenge human ingenuity in providing alternative sources of energy. Alternative technologies that employ the Sun’s energy (solar-electric and wind power) are advancing rapidly and provide electrical power at costs that are approaching those of conventional technologies.