Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is harvested by drilling into underground reservoirs of steam or water heated by the Earth. While western states like California and Nevada lead the country in geothermal energy production, emerging technologies may make it possible to extract geothermal energy throughout the United States.

Basics

A geothermal plant in Iceland. Image Copyright © Bruce Molnia, Terra Photographics. http://www.earthscienceworld.org/images

Geothermal energy comes from the heat of the Earth’s interior. Reservoirs of steam or hot water with temperatures between 225°and 600°F can generate electricity,[1] while lower-temperature geothermal fluids are often used directly for heating, agriculture, and industry.[1] In western states like California and Nevada, magma beneath the Earth’s surface creates shallow hot water reservoirs. Scientists are developing enhanced geothermal systems to extract heat from hot, dry rocks in order to produce electricity.   Read more

Latest News

Interactive map of geothermal resources in the United States. Image Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
(2016-10-05)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared Geothermal Prospector, an interactive map of geothermal resources in the U.S. from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (@NREL), which you can find at http://bit.ly/2dlOJL9. For additional resources, check out the Critical...
Interactive map of thermal springs in the U.S. Image Credit: NOAA
(2016-09-30)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared an interactive map of thermal springs throughout the U.S. from the National Centers for Environmental Information at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (@NOAA). Access the map here.
Map of U.S. Geothermal Power Capacity. Image Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
(2016-09-28)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared a map of geothermal power generation capacity in each U.S. state from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (@NREL), which you can find at http://bit.ly/1BnlUkJ. If you're interested in learning more about the cutting edge...
Interactive map of Nevada geothermal resources and infrastructure. Image Credit: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
(2016-09-20)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared an interactive map of geothermal resources and infrastructure from the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, which you can find at http://bit.ly/1xmR0Jp. If you're interested in geothermal energy, check out our Geothermal Energy...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
(2016-07-28)
July 13, 2016 The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing to discuss the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R.2663), a bipartisan bill with 67 cosponsors that was introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) in 2015. If enacted, H.R.2663 would...
(2016-06-09)
AGI's Geoscience Policy Program published the May 2016 Summary of federal-level legislation impacting the geoscience community. This includes continuing appropriations discussions in both the House and Senate for funding in FY 2017 for agencies that employ geoscientists, studying geoscience...
IES Water Glyph
(2016-06-09)
May 24, 2016 The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $4 million to 4 research and development (R&D) projects at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Washington, the University of Utah, and the University of Wyoming. The 4...
U.S. Capitol
(2016-03-23)
March 16, 2016 The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) held a briefing on the state of geothermal energy on both national and global scales. The speakers were Sakari Oksanen of the International Renewable Energy Agency, Meseret Zemedkun of the...
U.S. Capitol
(2016-02-02)
January 29, 2016 Last week the Senate began debate on the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, the first major package of energy legislation considered in Congress since 2005. Introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the bill has received bipartisan support, passing out of committee with an...

Research Database Publications

Cover of ofr-14-06; Source: Arizona Geological Survey
2014, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
Under the Department of Energy (DOE) National Geothermal Data System (NGDS) (Contract DE-EE0002850) Supplemental Data project to discover new geothermal data, the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) investigated the geochemical makeup of groundwater from select thermal springs and wells during late...
Cover image of position paper; Image credit: NGWA
2017, National Ground Water Association (NGWA)
The National Ground Water Association believes the grout and the loop tube are integral parts of the loop well and that qualified individuals, such as a Certified Vertical Closed Loop Driller (CVCLD), should be authorized to construct a loop well. Construction of a geothermal heat pump loop well...
Cover of R055; Source: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
2015, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG)
Geothermal resources can potentially contribute toward the renewable energy portfolio of White Pine County (WPC) in two ways: first through the direct conversion of heat energy into electricity, and the second by way of direct-use applications in which thermal energy is used as a source of heat for...
Cover of RI36; Source: Wyoming State Geological Survey
1986, Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS)
This is the third in a series of reports describing the geothermal resources of Wyoming basins. Each basin report contains a discussion of hydrology as it relates to the movement of heated water, a description and interpretation of the thermal regime, and four maps.
AIPG logo
2009, American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG)
Biofuels, biomass, hydroelectric, solar, geothermal, and wind make up the largest renewable energy resource group in the world. These resources are renewable and sustainable, so a statement of current reserves is generally hard to estimate, with limiting factors such as water, land and the...
Cover of O96-4 ; Source: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
1996, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
Recent developments in the energy supply of the Pacific Northwest, such as the continuing controversy over the impact of hydro dams on salmon, and the closure of the Trojan nuclear plant suggest that alternative energy sources may become more economically competitive. Although the geothermal...
Cover image of report; Image Credit: ARMA
2003, American Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA)
This workshop on rock mechanics and enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) was held in Cambridge, Mass., on June 20-21 2003, prior to the Soil and Rock America 2003 International Conference at MIT. Its purpose was to bring together experts in the field of rock mechanics and geothermal systems to...
Cover image of factsheet Image credit: NGWA
2016, National Ground Water Association (NGWA)
Geothermal heat pump systems. Ground source heat pumps. GeoExchange. Whatever the name, this type of heating and cooling system has become popular for residential and commercial builders in recent years. And why not? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated these systems are the most...
Cover of RI29; Source: Wyoming State Geological Survey
1985, Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS)
This is the second in a series of reports describing the geothermal resources of Wyoming basins. Each basin report contains a discussion of hydrology as it relates to the movement of heated water, a description and interpretation of the thermal regime, and four maps.
Cover of ofr-15-06; Source: Arizona Geological Survey
2015, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
Hookers Hot Springs is located approximately 70 km (40 miles) east of Tucson, Arizona, and is within the Hookers Hot Springs 7.5’ Quadrangle in the southern Galiuro Mountains. The hot spring itself is on the southwest flank of the wide wash in Hot Springs Canyon, east of the San Pedro River. Water...