Docstoc

The Potential of Geothermal Energy

Document Sample
The Potential of Geothermal Energy Powered By Docstoc
					“The Potential of Geothermal Energy”
Statement of Jane C. S. Long Dean of the Mackay School of Mines Co-authored by Lisa Shevenell Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy Mackay School of Mines, University of Nevada, Reno
1664 N. Virginia St., MS 168, Reno, NV 89557 Phone: (775) 774-6987; Fax: (775) 784- 1776; Web Site: www.mackay.unr.edu

Before the Joint Department of the Interior and Department of Energy Conference on Opportunities to Expand Renewable Energy on Public Lands
November 28th, 2001 Washington, DC

INTRODUCTION
Madame Secretary and Conference participants: Thank you for the opportunity to address this group. I will be presenting testimony regarding the geothermal energy potential in Nevada and the obstacles to developing this abundant renewable, clean, and affordable source of electricity and heat. This statement was prepared in cooperation with several individuals interested in geothermal development in Nevada, including industry representatives, researchers, and federal and state agency representatives. I am the Dean of the Mackay School of Mines at the University of Nevada, Reno. Our college has been involved in geothermal research for many years, and has recently placed renewed emphasis on research and education in geothermal energy, including embarking on a new initiative in the creation of the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy. I very much appreciate the opportunity to talk to you today about geothermal energy. In the U.S., we are currently using geothermal resources to produce approximately 2230 MW of green electricity, which is 28% of the total worldwide production of power from geothermal resources 1. Additionally, geothermal resources are also used in numerous direct applications of geothermal heat such as aquaculture, vegetable dehydration, spas, and space and district heating, accounting for approximately 3800 GWh/yr use of these resources in the U.S2. There are potentially many more geothermal resources to develop in the U.S., and particularly in Nevada. A new assessment of these resources is critical to further development of geothermal as a significant source of energy. Additional resource development also requires new efforts in the negotiation of transmission access, power purchase agreements, and public land access and leasing. My testimony today will address these topics and the interplay between them. The cover figure is a map of geothermal potential in the western U.S. showing that potential geothermal resources with temperatures in excess of 100C occur over the vast majority of the state of Nevada. Nine known geothermal resource areas have been developed in the state of Nevada for electrical power generation. Several of these existing facilities are exploring expansion, some with the assistance of DOE GeoPowering the West funds. Eighty-five percent of the land in Nevada is in Federal agency administration, so there is a plethora of federal land leasing issues with which to contend. Nevada is in transition on electric utility deregulation and has recently passed some of the most ambitious portfolio standards for renewable energy in the nation. Our state is geographically located next to major markets for our renewable energy resources, and we are critically interested in enhancing transmission paths to these markets. Thus, Nevada represents an exemplar cross-section of the major issues facing geothermal power development. I am lucky to be involved in geothermal energy in Nevada, and my remarks today will address the issues facing geothermal energy development in the U.S. in general, but I draw more heavily from Nevada to illustrate the potential of this clean, renewable energy source if barriers can be overcome. GEOTHERMAL ENERGY POTENTIAL Nevada Geothermal Resources Nearly 8000 MWe of geothermal electricity are produced worldwide. In the U.S., California is the leader with 1900 MWe produced annually, and Nevada is second with 216 MWe produced at nine geothermal areas1,3. Numerous additional known resource areas could be used once barriers to development are addressed. Currently, the largest geothermal power plant in Nevada is located in the remote location of Dixie Valley (66 MW), whereas the smallest is at Wabuska (two 0.6 MW plants) 4. Thus far, the largest known and developed resource area is Steamboat Springs, located within the Reno metropolitan area, where two companies operate three power plants producing up to 69.5 MW of electricity reliably throughout the year. With the assistance of DOE, one of the operators in this geothermal field has drilled in a new zone to expand the known resource area, and has proposed construction of a new 30 MW power plant. Other areas in Nevada that are benefiting from DOE’s GeoPowering the West Program include the existing area at Empire, the previously abandoned, partly completed Rye Patch geothermal plant, and a new area at Blue Mountain. The Nevada Legislature recently passed a renewable portfolio standard. The standard stipulates that 15% of electric power in Nevada must come from renewable sources within 10 years. In addition, there has been rapid population

2

growth in Nevada and an increasing interest in geothermal development due to recent events that include the power shortage in California in the summer of 2001 and the September 11 attacks on the U.S. These various factors indicate now is the time to aggressively pursue secure, clean, reliable geothermal power. In order to expand production at existing facilities and develop new areas, exploration surveys including drilling, are required to define limits of producing reservoirs and locate new resources. Evaluation of the large amount of production data collected at operating plants in the past 15 years is needed to better understand the behavior of the systems under natural and commercial exploitation conditions, and to develop hydrogeologic models of the sites. When models of the systems have been developed, it will be possible to make more informed decisions on how to expand current resources at known areas and to explore for new ones in similar hydrogeologic settings. Untapped Resources The last geothermal resource assessment in the U.S. was conducted by the USGS in the 1970s 5. Our understanding of geology is far different today than it was in the 1970s, which is shortly after the time that plate tectonics began gaining acceptance as a standard model for the Earth. In the last 30 years there have been huge advances in structural geology and characterization technology. Significantly, the oil industry has developed major new 3-D seismic imaging technology and directional drilling. These are primarily responsible for a revolution in petroleum reservoir prospecting and management, but have not been applied as yet in the geothermal industry. It was not until the mid 1980s that binary system power conversion became economical in geothermal plants. With a binary system, the heat from geothermal fluids is transferred first to another fluid with a lower temperature boiling (flash) point. This lower flash point fluid is then used in the generator to produce electricity. The binary cycle allows electricity to be generated from a lower temperature reservoir. Thus, what was not a significant reservoir in the 1970s may well be significant today. The survey published in the 1970s is out of date. Clearly, a modern resource assessment must be conducted if geothermal energy is to reach its potential. Due to the renewed interest in geothermal power, it is anticipated that exploration and development will commence at several other known resource areas, including Fish Lake Valley, and several sites identified in close proximity to the existing transmission line corridor from Dixie Valley to Bishop, California. Additional largely untapped areas of high potential include Salt Wells, portions of the Walker River and Pyramid Lake Indian Reservations, and the Black Rock Desert, a portion of which was recently withdrawn to protect a National Historic Trail network and form a National Conservation Area. If geothermal energy is to expand to its full potential, we must be able to find the reservoirs that have no surface expression. Just to give a sense of how large the potential of “blind” geothermal is, more than half of Nevada’s currently producing areas were concealed (with no surface expressions of geothermal activity), and many of the other Known Geothermal Resource Areas (KGRA) were either hidden or had no hot springs issuing at the surface, although some had sinter deposits, which are much more easily overlooked. Some of these concealed resources were found by shallow wells drilled specifically to determine if elevated temperature gradients could be identified in the subsurface, whereas others were detected by domestic or municipal water supply wells that inadvertently encountered hot water. This certainly indicates that there are numerous additional high-temperature geothermal areas yet to be found. The development of technology for finding “blind” geothermal areas will be a major factor in development. Huge amounts of money can be lost in geothermal ventures if exploration reveals that there is no significant heat source, insufficient permeability, or a lack of fluid to conduct the heat. There are a number of remote sensing possibilities now for honing in on possible resources. These include infrared, magnetic and seismic surveys in addition to the more traditional geochemical and soil-gas surveys. Existing technologies should be checked against known resources to determine what should be used to identify the concealed resources. There is a need to compile well data to identify thermal anomalies as well as to develop geologic models that will help identify geothermal system locations based on information from currently producing resources that did not have surface expressions.

3

According to a Geothermal Energy Association report prepared with the input of 21 leading experts, up to 18,880 MW of geothermal power could be produced in the U.S. using enhanced technologies6, nearly an order of magnitude more than currently being produced. Once the untapped systems have been better characterized based on evaluation of existing data, new well data, modeling studies, additional geophysical and geochemical surveys, we can better estimate the actual energy capacity of the systems. Although the amount of energy has not been reliably quantified, changing the production and injection patterns (and amounts), drilling new wells in “virgin areas,” optimizing the power cycle, and improving surface installations can result in increasing power. With partial support from DOE, Nevada has just begun to update geothermal data and knowledge gained in the last 20 years to facilitate evaluation of new and existing resource areas. These updates will help BLM focus on those areas most needing planning reviews due to their higher resource potential and will allow the Bureau to identify environmental issues and any needed mitigation on priority sites. A new resource assessment program is a critical part of increasing the potential for investment in geothermal energy. This is not the type of activity industry will fund. This more broad-based, basic research type of project is needed and differs from work that industry conducts, which is more detailed characterization of specific sites for which they hold leases. Aside from lowering drilling costs and raising success rates, one of the major operational aspects requiring attention is improved reservoir characterization to optimize field management practices. Most reservoir problems that field operators are seeing are related to either thermal breakthrough in producing wells, pressure declines, or both. Insuring the reservoir is operated in a fashion so plant performance meets sales contract requirements 2 to 3 years after start-up would greatly aid financing expansions as well as new projects. The most dramatic case of reservoir decline was in The Geysers in northern California, where poor operational practices based on a poor understanding of the reservoir led to a 50% reduction in the original 2000 MWe reservoir. With better characterization and management, this reservoir now has increased its production under an increased re-injection scheme that stabilized the reservoir7. Technologies applied at The Geysers to solve this problem have application at many reservoirs where there is a need to optimize and stabilize production. There are few significant technical barriers to improve the identification of new resources and use of geothermal energy aside from the availability of financial resources, but most techniques require some refinement and improvement (e.g., utility of remote sensing techniques is being explored and new methods are being developed). There is a tremendous potential advantage to be gained from transferring known technology within and from outside the geothermal industry. Cost of Production As production has increased the cost per MW has declined. In 1980, the cost of producing power with geothermal energy was between 15 and 16 cents/kWh. Due in part to technological improvements, the costs have dropped to 5 to 8 cents/kWh in 2000, with reductions to 4 to 6 cents/kWh anticipated by 2003. Due to the repeated interest rate reductions during calendar year 2001, these costs may be further reduced because costs of financing have declined dramatically. Although there are high initial costs to geothermal development programs, the longer term, low operator costs make geothermal more attractive. Improved drilling technology and production and injection strategies (reservoir analysis) will help reduce the costs of operation and production. Many advances in these areas have been made in recent years (e.g., reducing or eliminating scale formation in wells and surface installations, plugging of lost circulation zones with polyurethane), and advances are likely to continue. Avoided Costs and Environmental Impacts Worldwide, direct uses of hot water reduced dependence on fossil fuels equivalent to burning of 830 million gallons of oil or 4.4 million tons of coal per year. Worldwide electrical production from geothermal reservoirs avoids the combustion of 5.4 billion gallons of oil or 28.3 million tons of coal. Based on the potential for U.S. geothermal power production from enhanced technologies cited above, we have the opportunity to avoid or offset over 74 million tons of CO2 emissions annually from fossil fuel

4

power generation and thereby significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our country8. In addition to these global emission reductions of a coordinated Federal/State/Industry geothermal power initiative, regional and local emissions will also be significantly reduced. Substituting 18,880 MW of geothermal power for an equivalent amount of power from the most advanced gas fired power plants would avoid over 5,000 tons of NOx, 8,000 tons of CO, 5,000 tons of PM10, and 2,000 tons of VOC’s annually in our western skies9. Thus, increased reliance on geothermal energy will not only provide reliable baseload power but also enhance environmental quality making geothermal an integral component of the comprehensive national energy plan. POLICY BARRIERS TO EXPANSION Transmission Issues The last burst of geothermal development followed the energy crisis of the 1970s. At that time, geothermal energy was bought under special purchase agreements called standard offer number 4, which allowed for a larger premium in price. Consequently, projects such as Dixie Valley were able to build their own 210-mile-long transmission line, and the premium price allowed the cost of the transmission line to be paid off within one year of starting plant operations. In today’s energy market, such solutions are more unlikely and other methods for arranging transmission are required. There are three key issues in arranging transmission: 1) determining where transmission will be located; 2) determining who will pay for the transmission; and 3) determining if existing DC lines can be tapped for renewable access. Geothermal resources are where they are. If they are not close to existing transmission lines or consumption centers, and many are not, it is much more difficult to develop them economically. Geothermal exploration is likely to proceed in proximity to existing transmission lines. Such sites are being evaluated along the Dixie Valley transmission line corridor, which could carry additional power along its length. However, there is a limit since power cannot be delivered past Bishop, California because of insufficient transmission capacity. Due to the location of most of Nevada’s geothermal resources, there is the potential for excess green electrons in the northern part of the state, yet most rapid population growth occurs in the southern part. Hence, electricity being produced in the north is needed in the south, yet there is no direct tie to transmit the power between these areas. Additionally, current regulations stipulate that the power can only be purchased once, not brokered among distributors. With the uncertainties confronting the electrical industry, it is unclear how companies are going to recover project costs, especially those of transmission facilities, and there is concern whether it is profitable to invest in transmission in an energy-deregulating environment. Companies have, therefore, been reducing their commitments to transmission projects. At this point, exploration and bidding for public land leases is focused around existing transmission lines. Consequently, many geothermal resource areas are not being investigated or tapped. Changes in Federal transmission policy could play a major role in accelerating the development of geothermal power in the West. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has primary jurisdiction over interstate transmission system rates and access. To the extent that FERC is encouraging the formation of regional transmission organizations (RTO’s) policies can be establish that provide geothermal and other renewable resources with less expensive transmission access. The Western Governors Association (WGA) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have recognized that interstate transmission expansions have been slow to develop in recent years 10. Deregulation efforts in California and throughout the west have made utilities and wholesale power producers more protective of their market information, which has made transmission planning more difficult. In addition, increased uncertainty in energy markets and regulation has increased the risk of investing in new transmission. The combined effect of these conditions is that little new interstate transmission is being planned or built. Both the WGA and the FERC agree that the ultimate solution to this problem is the creation of large Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) that can gather the information and do the transmission studies that encourage rational transmission planning. However, the WGA and FERC also recognize that fully functional RTOs capable of effectuating such a planning process are two to five years away. In

5

response, the WGA and several western electric organizations are seeking to protect the reliability of the western interconnection by encouraging the immediate expansion of the western transmission system. The transmission lines that are built over the next five years will affect the economics of geothermal projects so the geothermal industry is very interested in the transmission projects that are identified by this planning process10. The Conceptual Transmission Plan produced by the WGA for the western states identifies interstate transmission additions that relieve system constraints and expand the transmission capacity of the western interconnection for two generation scenarios. The two scenarios, a gas only generation expansion scenario and an “other than gas” scenario, represent minimum and maximum electric transmission expansion cases, respectively. While the other than gas scenario assumes a small amount of geothermal and wind expansion, neither scenario focuses on the transmission projects that are of greatest interest to geothermal developers. The next steps to be taken by the WGA include a transmission financing recommendation and transmission siting recommendations. The geothermal community believes that these recommendations and any subsequent recommendations regarding the relative priority of transmission line expansions should consider the location of geothermal and other renewable resources. Failing to consider the proximity of transmission expansions to renewable resources will bias future energy production toward fossil fuel-based energy sources, and thus compromise attempts to increase our energy security by increasing fuel diversity. Clearly, it is important to have a new geothermal resource assessment if new transmission plans are to truly maximize the possibility of geothermal development. It is not just the location of new transmission, but how the cost is distributed that is critical to geothermal development. Texas might be taken as an exemplar where one transmission coordinating council (ERCOT) allowed the costs for renewable systems (primarily wind) to interconnect into the transmission grid to be spread over all transmission system users. Thus the full costs were not borne by the renewable developer. FERC has also ordered interconnection and system upgrade costs to be rolled into average system rates in other special circumstances as part of its effort to ease the energy crisis in California. If such exceptions can be made by ERCOT and FERC and are in the public interest, then it is reasonable to conclude that similar exceptions for resources such as geothermal that provide substantial environmental and societal benefits are also in the public interest. Another possible, shorter-term solution to part of the transmission problems for Nevada’s abundant geothermal power is the Pacific Direct Current Intertie (PDCI). The bulk of the line runs through Northern Nevada adjacent to numerous geothermal resource areas and several Indian reservations with geothermal and wind potential. In Nevada, the line is on a Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) right-of-way. It is rated at 3200 MW capacity, but as much as 2000 MW of capacity are potentially available on this line. The excess capacity of this line provides a substantial opportunity for the Federal government to develop the line as a collector for renewable energy in Northern Nevada for export to the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, Northern California (via the Pacific Intertie), and even Las Vegas and the desert Southwest via backhaul from Los Angeles to Mead. The primary requirements for this plan are a third tap on the line in Northern Nevada (inexpensive relative to permitting and building new transmission of equal distance and capacity) and reserving adequate capacity for renewable developers. The concept has been discussed with both BPA and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power transmission planners with relatively favorable reception. The WAPA and California municipal utilities have formed a group to promote the integration of renewable energy into their resource mix. That group, the Public Power Renewable Energy Action Team, or PPREAT, was recently awarded a grant from the California Energy Commission to study the feasibility of tapping the PDCI in Northern Nevada to bring renewable power to California. DOE and FERC could assist in furthering this proposal by bringing the parties together to more thoroughly explore the feasibility of the project. Transmission is key to geothermal development. Given a new resource assessment, the location of our highest potential reservoirs will be much better defined. This could be factored into transmission plans. Regulation could help to average the cost of new transmission, and tapping into existing DC lines would provide access to many geothermal resources at far lower cost than building new transmission.

6

Power Purchase and Financial Issues Nevada can now boast of the most ambitious portfolio standards in the nation through the passing of SB 372 in 2001, in which 15% renewable energy is phased in over 10 years. In response to this bill, the utility (Sierra Pacific Power Co.) has let a request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy generation. During the RFP process, the utility and providers of electric service have to offer the option of a 10-year or longer power purchase contract to the power providers. If there were no requirement for long-term contracts, it would be difficult to bring renewable energy projects on-line. This requirement assures the new power producers will have a 10-year stream of revenue that the bank can use as security for the loan. This type of security is not as big an issue for wind power generators due to the smaller up-front costs of these projects and the typically larger companies that finance those types of projects Rule making may actually determine how much of the 15% standard is achieved. A big issue is that there is a requirement that utilities and providers of electric service of less than 1 MW (exclusive of schools) are not required to purchase this renewable power if the offers are not “just and reasonable.” Further, the public utilities commission (PUC) is, in general, concerned about energy prices, which have increased with the recent “California energy crisis.” So, although Nevada has nominally the most ambitious renewable energy portfolio standards, the “just and reasonable” clause may result in a significantly diminished impact for promotion of renewable energy. The public policy issue – that of increasing the price of energy by a small amount in the short term to provide environmentally friendly energy that also minimizes price volatility in the future – may be diluted in rule making Public Land Leasing and Environmental Issues Much of the high-potential geothermal lands are publicly owned. Thus, the leasing of geothermal lands is perhaps the largest bottleneck in development. There are three main issues related to processing lease applications on Federal lands. First, land use plans and environmental assessments need to be completed for the lands before a lease can be processed. Second, because there are many sites requiring these environmental assessments, sites need to be prioritized with better resource assessments made in the context of knowledge gained in the previous 20 years. Third, some high potential geothermal lands cannot be leased because they have been withdrawn from future development. Regarding the first of these issues, BLM’s position is that they cannot lease property without a land-use plan. Deregulation has had two significant results: utilities are no longer doing this type of planning, and, with more competitive markets, plants may be built in multiple localities, which makes it difficult to plan and pay for the required infrastructure. The states need to work with the BLM to develop a generalized land-use plan that maintains enough flexibility to respond to different competitive solutions. Renewable energy benefits from competitive wholesale markets, but flexibility in the land use planning process within BLM is needed. While better methods of defining KRGAs are important, the primary issue for BLM is the timely completion of a programmatic leasing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). It does not matter if BLM is addressing noncompetitive lease applications or the need for a competitive sale. If the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) base planning documents do not adequately analyze current environmental issues, little leasing will occur in a timely manner. This difficulty is primarily a budget issue. For example, in 1985, the national BLM geothermal budget was $3.2 million. At that time, over 2 million acres were leased and numerous drilling and power plant approvals were issued in a timely manner. By contrast, that budget for FY-01 was only about $600,000. With reductions in staff and the program having low priority in the 1990s due to poor energy economics, issues such as keeping planning documents up to date did not get much attention. As a result, BLM is having a difficult time addressing the sudden increase in leasing interest. As in the 1980s, with adequate funding, the situation could be turned quickly into a success story. There are two good approaches for addressing timely leasing. The first is to develop generic EIS documents and the second is to understand better where the resources actually are so that these lands can be prioritized for early processing. The BLM could develop a programmatic EIS to cover typical activities throughout the state and minimize the requirement of detailed environmental assessments at

7

every lease application locality. In Nevada, the BLM took an approach that was designed to get as many properties as possible leased quickly in the absence of such a document. They conducted triage on the environmental risk and focused on evaluating leases on the 5% of the KGRAs that are known to have the very lowest risks to environmental or cultural concerns. However, there is a processing backlog of approximately 150 lease applications because of the Bureau’s inability to conduct environmental assessments in a timely manner due to limited availability of staff. Further, it isn’t clear that the sites with low environmental impact are also the sites of greatest geothermal potential because a new assessment of the sites is needed. BLM is currently working on leasing EAs. This is primarily being handled at the field office level, so that an adequate review of the overall issues can be conducted for that part of the state. In addition to issues such as air and water quality, the two main ones are: (1) proper consultation with Native Americans and addressing their concerns, which can become difficult when spiritual issues are raised, and (2) identification and review of Threatened and Endangered (T & E) species and their habitat and any needed mitigation. Sage grouse, for which there is still a hunting season in Nevada, may be listed as a T & E species by the Fish and Wildlife Service, which could withdraw much of northern Nevada, the area of highest geothermal potential in the state, from further development. If BLM is able to demonstrate that it is protecting the habitat, the species may not be listed. If the species were to be listed, this action would have major effects on all aspects of public land management. In all of these leasing issues, as in transmission siting, having a good resource assessment is critical to making wise decisions. It makes the most sense to do environmental studies of lands with the greatest geothermal potential as a priority. If we choose to withdraw land from development, we should do so with a good idea of exactly what we are giving up and why. Training Issues There is currently no single educational facility in the U.S. offering training in geothermal exploration, development, operation, and management. As this industry grows in the coming years, requiring experienced and knowledgeable personnel, such a training and education facility will be needed and should be established in the near future. SUMMARY The potential of geothermal energy production in the Western U.S. is significant. In Nevada alone, it is not difficult to conceive of doubling the current level of electrical generation within the next 5 to 10 years. There are some federal and state programs that will help with the identification and better management of resources. The largest barriers, however, are not technical. Geothermal resources are not found everywhere, the thermal fluids can only be produced where the reservoirs are; thus, transmission needs to be available to bring the power to market. Much of the geothermal energy in the U.S. is found on public lands, and the leasing of these for production must be done in a timely fashion, particularly with respect to power purchase RFPs. Timely leasing requires that environmental and land-use issues be resolved quickly in the best interest of the country. Geothermal plant investments must face a favorable economic incentive through portfolio standards and long-term contracts, and Nevada has made significant advances on this front. Moving the development of geothermal power along as quickly as possible is in the national interest. As James Schlessinger pointed out in a speech at the National Academy of Sciences in October 2001, a major cause of the recent national tragedy is “O-I-L.” Middle Eastern oil accounts for up to 40% of the world’s supply, dominates our energy economy, and weighs heavily on our foreign policy. The OPEC nations know that keeping the price low, or low enough, inhibits investment in other sources of energy and new technology that would obviate the need for oil as an energy source. Low oil prices are a way to keep the world addicted to the only real source of revenue for these countries. Addiction forces us to make foreign policy decisions we might not otherwise make. And the use of fossil fuels is estimated to increase the CO2 loading in the atmosphere by over 40% in the next 50 years with uncertain, but possibly major impacts on our lives and livelihoods. Additionally, the recent terrorist attacks have shown how

8

vulnerable we are with the large central power plants throughout the U.S. Distributed electrical power plants such as geothermal plants certainly increase our national security. We need to have a public policy solution to enable a transition from a fossil fuel economy and to a brighter, more independent energy future. During President Bush’s November 8, 2001 address to the nation, he received a standing ovation from the audience after stating that we need to be less dependent on foreign oil. The nation recognizes this imperative. As part of a comprehensive energy plan, geothermal energy must be utilized to help offset fossil fuel uses and reduce the overall U.S. reliance on imported oil from the Middle East and elsewhere. Market forces will not take us there. Let us construct a new initiative, a new “Manhattan Project” for energy. Let this new project take our best scientists and engineers in our National Labs, universities, and industry and challenge them to create new ways to obtain competitive, reliable, and environmentally benign sources of energy for our future. Our scientists and engineers have scaled such heights in the past; they can do it again. There are many great problems to work on, many opportunities, and many policy barriers to be broken. We who work on geothermal energy are ready but we must begin now. It is now up to our government to recognize this imperative and to act on it and quickly eliminate or mitigate the barriers that presently restrict the development and commercial exploitation of the geothermal resources of our great nation. Specifically, transmission issues must be addressed, and access to public lands must be granted much more quickly than has been the practice in the recent past. We solicit the secretaries of the DOI and DOE to quickly address the barriers over which they have control and provide programmatic funding to the BLM so that lease applications can be processed in a timely manner. Geothermal resource assessment is the linchpin. If we know where the resources are, we can have better transmission plans that will better account for geothermal production. If we know where the resources are, we can prioritize required environmental assessments to expedite leasing. The last resource assessment is far out of date; we are ready now to perform a state-ofthe-art assessment that will reveal the true potential of geothermal energy for our country. Thank you. Individuals Contributing to this Testimony: Gordon Bloomquist, Washington State University Curtis Framel, Department of Energy Karl Gawell, Geothermal Energy Association Byard Wood, Mechanical Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno John Snow, Nevada Div. of Minerals

Carl Linvill, Nevada State Energy Office Marcelo Lippman, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Dan Schochet, Ormat John Wellinghoff, Attorney Richard Hoops, BLM, Nevada State Office Larry Garside, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geol.

REFERENCES: 1 Transactions, Geothermal Resources Council, 2000. Vol. 24, p. 369-396. 2 Geothermal Education Office. http://geothermal.marin.org/map/usa.html 3 The Nevada Mineral Industry. Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Special Publication P-12. http://www.nbmg.unr.edu/mm00.pdf 4 Nevada Geothermal Resources. Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Map 126. http://www.nbmg.unr.edu/m126.pdf 5 Muffler, L.J.P. (ed.), Assessment of Geothermal Resources in the United States - 1978. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 790. 6 Gawell, Reid and Wright, Preliminary Report: Geothermal Energy, the Potential for Clean Power from the Earth, Geothermal Energy Association, April 7, 1999. 7 Barker, B., 2000. The Geysers; past and future. Bulletin - Geothermal Resources Council, vol.29, no.5, pp.163-171, Oct 2000. 8 Geothermal Education Office. http://geothermal.marin.org/geoenergy.html#env-cons 9 Environmental Protection Agency, Calculated pollutants from power plants. http://www.epa.gov. 10 Western Governors Association, Energy Policy. http://www.westgov.org/wga/initiatives/energy/

9


				
DOCUMENT INFO