NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LABORATORY
Though exploring for hydrothermal resources is not new, advances in exploration technologies and the pursuit of less visible resources have created a need to outline exploration best practices. This multi-year study outlines 21 geothermal exploration regions in the Western United States. These regions were developed based on the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) physiographic regions, then adjusted to fit geothermal parameters such as differences in geologic regime, structure, heat source, surface effects (weather, vegetation patterns, groundwater flow), and other relevant factors. Literature searches were conducted in each of these 21 regions for the application of field reconnaissance, geochemical, geophysical and remote sensing techniques.
At this time, data from more than 250 references have been cataloged in U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Open Energy Information (OpenEI, http://en.openei.org) website, which allows industry to access data information and run analyses on specific data attributes. The platform also allows updates, edits, and additions from the public so that the dataset can be expanded as industry‘s knowledge grows. In addition to the literature survey, interviews were conducted with exploration experts with both geothermal and oil-and-gas industry experience to identify the exploration challenges and best practices for the exploration regions.
This paper defines and describes the geothermal regions developed for this study, describes how exploration techniques contribute to hydrothermal analyses (structural, petrologic, temperature, and hydrologic), and defines the exploration hurdles and best practices for each region. The results of the study and accompanying data sets on OpenEI will be available through the National Geothermal Data System.
About the National Renewable Energy Library
“The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the only national laboratory solely dedicated to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies from concept to commercial application. For 35 years, NREL innovations, analysis, and expertise have enabled the emergence of a U.S. clean energy industry. NREL’s 327-acre main campus in Golden, Colorado, is a living model of sustainable energy. The laboratory also operates the National Wind Technology Center on 305 acres located 13 miles north of its main campus.”