The US has yet to tap its vast geothermal energy resources, and a movement is finally afoot to kick the domestic industry into high gear. That includes the iconic coal and gas producing state of West Virginia. I know, right? Shocker! The Mountain State’s geothermal gold mine may come as a surprise to some, but there it is, and it could help grow a whole new job-creating field in the energy business.
Geothermal energy is a tricky thing, and it is getting trickier. New geothermal energy facilities are expensive, and geographically limited, and they have to compete with hydropower, wind, and solar for a share of the renewable energy pie.
The Department of Energy has been pumping money into geothermal R&D on a regular basis, but some of the focus has been on promoting geothermal energy as an exportable technology. Compared to new wind and solar development, US geothermal activity has been rather sleepy.
That could change soon. The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has just run the geothermal numbers, and they see a significant role for geothermal energy in the sparkling green future.
“Increasing the use of geothermal energy for U.S. heating and cooling can significantly contribute to national decarbonization goals to cut U.S. emissions in half by 2030 and achieve a carbon-free electric sector by 2035,” NREL writes.
For the benefit of non-believers, NREL also observes that “geothermal district heating technology is mature and is currently being deployed widely in Europe and Asia.”