We Have Just Begun to Tap Geothermal Energy's Potential
A leading US geothermal
developer applauded new House legislation seeking to tap possibly hundreds
of thousands of megawatts of new geothermal energy to meet US power needs.
"Today, nearly 3,000 MW of new geothermal power are under development,
which will create over 10,000 new jobs and new investment of over $7
billion, but much more is possible," Paul Thomsen, Public Policy Manager of
Ormat Technologies, told the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and
The House Committee on Science, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment
hearing, titled, "Developing Untapped Potential: Geothermal and Ocean Power
Technologies," examined proposed legislation that could significantly boost
geothermal energy production. Rep. Gerald McNerney (D-CA), recently
introduced a bill, HR 2304, that would "direct the Secretary of Energy to
conduct a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial
application for geothermal energy, and for other purposes." The legislation
authorizes $400 million for geothermal research for fiscal years FY 2008
through FY 2012.
"The OMB proposal to terminate geothermal research is not only short-
sighted, it just doesn't make any sense," commented Thomsen. "By passing
this legislation, Congress will recognize that we have just begun to tap
the enormous potential of geothermal energy in this country." Paul Thomsen
spoke on behalf of his company as well as the U.S. geothermal trade
association, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA). OMB had proposed
zeroing out geothermal programs at the Department of Energy in its FY 07
and FY 08 budgets.
"There are substantial needs for improvements in technology, resource
information, and efficiencies for which federal research are vital," said
Karl Gawell, GEA Executive Director. "Rep. McNerney's legislation is
urgently needed to ensure that federal energy programs work to tap the
tremendous potential of our nation's geothermal energy resources."
"Today, we are tapping only 3.5% of the estimated hydrothermal resource
base. Is that acceptable when our country imports 10 million barrels of oil
a day and is 60% dependent on net petroleum imports?" Thomsen told the
Subcommittee. "HR 2304 recognizes the answer is no and the time to take
action is now," he emphasized.
The potential for geothermal energy production is significant, with
only a fraction of the potential currently tapped. According to Thomsen's
testimony, "a vast potential exists that could help meet the country's
growing electricity needs, spur economic growth and help reduce emissions
of greenhouse gases." Recent reports by the National Renewable Energy
Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology both estimate that
over 100,000 MW of geothermal power is possible in the future, with
continued research and development support.
To view a copy of Thomsen's testimony, and GEA's statement for the
record, please visit the GEA website at http://www.geo-energy.org
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