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The Future of Geothermal Energy

Posted by Content Coordinator on Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Executive Summary

The goal of this assessment is to provide an evaluation of geothermal energy as a major supplier of energy in the United States. An 18-member assessment panel with broad experience and expertise was formed to conduct the study beginning in September 2005. The work evaluated three major areas of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS):

  • Magnitude and distribution of the EGS resource
  • Status and remaining requirements of EGS technology needed to demonstrate feasibility at a commercial-scale
  • Economic projections of impact of EGS on U.S. energy supply to 2050

Although there have been earlier assessments of EGS technology and economics, none has been as comprehensive as this one – ranging from providing a detailed evaluation of the geothermal resource to analyzing evolving energy markets for EGS. Our group was able to review technical contributions and progress, spanning more than 30 years of field testing, as well as several earlier economic and resource estimates.

Substantial progress has been made in developing and demonstrating certain components of EGS technology in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Japan, but further work is needed to establish the commercial viability of EGS for electrical power generation, cogeneration, and direct heat supply.

Based on the analysis of experienced researchers, it is important to emphasize that while further advances are needed, none of the known technical and economic barriers limiting widespread development of EGS as a domestic energy source are considered to be insurmountable.

Our assessment evaluates the status of EGS technology, details lessons-learned, and prioritizes R&D needs for EGS. It will inform the ongoing debate of how to provide a more sustainable and secure energy supply for Americans for the long term, without compromising our economic capacity and political and social stability, and while minimizing environmental impacts. Therefore, energy researchers and developers, utility analysts and executives, and government policy makers should find our report useful.

Download full report (PDF): The Future of Geothermal Energy

About the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
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“The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century — whether the focus is cancer, energy, economics or literature (learn more about MIT’s current initiatives).”

 

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