Geothermal Provides 0.4% of US Electricity

September 9, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

geo energy manageGeothermal energy has been a small, but consistent, source of electricity in the United States since 1971, providing 0.4 percent of total US generation in 2013, according to the Energy Information Administration. California is the site of most US geothermal capacity, but since 2001 new geothermal capacity additions have increasingly been located in other western states as most of the low-cost resources in California have already been developed.

There are currently 64 operating conventional geothermal power plants in the United States, accounting for nearly 2,700 MW of total capacity at the end of 2013. Over three-fourths of US geothermal power generation in 2013 was in California, largely because of favorable geothermal resources, policy, and market conditions in the state. The largest group of geothermal power plants in the world, a complex called the Geysers, located in Northern California, has more than 700 MW of capacity.

Since 2001, only 7 of 30 new plants exceeding 1 MW have been built in California, where most available low-cost geothermal resources have previously been developed. Sixteen of those 30 plants built after 2001 are in Nevada, with the remainder in Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Hawaii. Most of the newer plants are relatively small, and while geothermal generation rose 11 percent between 2008 and 2013, the geothermal share of total US electricity generation has remained consistently around 0.4 percent since 2001.

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