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Huge Geothermal Potential Revealed Beneath U.S. by Google-Funded Map


The recently revealed map, released by the Geothermal Laboratory of Southern Methodist University, shows once more that massive resources of potential energy lie hidden beneath America. After years of development, carried out with funding from Google, the newly revealed map shows that there are enough resources to equal 10 times the amount of energy that is today produced by coal.

It’s not the first time when this is shown. Another map, revealed last year by the S.M.U., shows that beneath West Virginia, an area which so far hasn’t been seen as a good place for technological development, lies a huge geothermal potential. Jeff Tester, an MIT researcher, showed in 2007 by analyzing the deep “hot rock” resources that the U.S. has 100GW of potential energy which can be harnessed by Enhanced Geothermal Systems [EGS]. This new type of plant design, instead of using the steam derived from hot water reservoirs that are near the surface, involves creating an artificial well by pumping water through deep rocks.

These maps are also supported by corresponding studies that show the real potential of geothermal exploitations. This supports geothermal developers to get involved in some areas in which they haven’t previously shown much interest, especially in areas like those situated on the East Coast .

The map is very important because it’s a great tool that helps evaluating potential resources in an industry where a developer has to spend 3/5ths of his investments only on exploration and drilling, with the considerable risk of not finding anything.

Still the developers working in this sector are having a hard time, having to compete for workers and drilling rigs with gas and oil companies. Therefore it is expected that the pace of development in the geothermal industry to be moderate.

Besides all the inconveniences and hardships faced by the industry, the Americans should realize the fact that they have been blessed with a considerable amount of exploitable geothermal resources, which lie beneath their feet.

[via thinkprogress]

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