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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Geothermal Power Continues Strong Growth, New Industry Report Shows

A new report by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) shows strong growth in new geothermal power projects continuing into 2009. "There has been a 25 percent increase in new geothermal projects from August of 2008, when the last GEA report was released. There is also an increase in overall production potential by 35 percent," says Kara Slack, the report's author.

The report also notes that the number of states producing geothermal power has increased from seven to eight with the addition of Wyoming. "Geothermal power projects continue to move forward, with new projects being added at an increasing rate," says Karl Gawell, executive director of GEA, a Washington trade group representing the geothermal energy industry.

The report identifies a total of 126 projects under development with the potential to put 5,500 MW of new geothermal power on line, equivalent to 15,000 MW to 20,000 MW from wind turbines or enough power for 5.5 million California homes, according to GEA. New geothermal power projects were identified in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

"It is great to see that between August 2008 and March 2009, there was a jump of about 1,500 MW in new geothermal projects," says Slack. "Interest in geothermal development continues to grow. We are seeing new entrants to the industry, in part because of new leasing by BLM and several new projects by the U.S. Navy."

According to the GEA report, Nevada, with 58 confirmed projects, has the most production under development. California is second with 27 projects, followed by Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Alaska, respectively.

"The report shows a substantial movement of projects into the later stages of development, the permitting and construction phases," Gawell says. "If federal and state governments give them the support and priority they need, most of these projects could be on line in a few years." GEA estimates that bringing these projects on line could help economic recovery, spurring as many as 100,000 new jobs.

Copies of U.S. Geothermal Power Production and Development Update, March 2009 are available for download free.

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