New Geothermal Plant Enlightens on Climate Change

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"All we need now is a forceful national energy policy supporting clean energy."

geothermal plant

A new 15 megawatt, utility-scale geothermal power plant has just come online in Jersey Valley, Nevada. The project is significant because it is the only utility-scale geothermal plant to be completed in the U.S. within the past year or so. Geothermal is reliable, renewable, clean energy produced right here in the U.S., and it's not subject to global market fluctuations or political turmoil overseas—say, shouldn't we be building these things at a rate of more than just one per year?

Geothermal energy from the new plant in Nevada will be purchased by NV Energy, which already has an extensive geothermal energy portfolio including 400 MW and the company expects to give it a big bounce up to 570 MW in the near future. That's just one utility company, and it's a drop in the bucket compared to the U.S. potential. The Department of Defense recently estimated that the geothermal potential on U.S. military facilities alone is a cool 926 gigawatts. Along with massive new wind power projects and solar installations, geothermal could play a significant role in our domestic energy future.

The only thing needed to speed things along is a forceful national energy policy that supports clean energy. The Obama administration has gone a long way with grants and loans for new clean energy projects and research, but Congress also has to step up with a regulatory framework that promotes clean energy. That's not likely to happen any time soon given the stated intention of some members to gut the federal government's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The pushback from the oil industry is only just beginning, so hold on to your hats.

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