Geothermal in California Can Add 7% of Supply

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"California leads the world in geothermal energy development, but most of the state's geothermal plants were built in the '70s and '80s."

Renewable Energy World, Paul Gipe

Small, geographically dispersed geothermal power plants could provide 7% of California's electricity supply, according to an analysis of data collected by a consultant to the Golden state.

California recently passed new legislation requiring the state to provide 33% of its electricity from renewable energy and newly elected Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law.

Geothermal energy is a renewable resource using the heat of the earth to generate electricity and heat homes, offices, and factories.

California leads the world in geothermal energy development. However, most of California's geothermal power plants were built in the 1970s and 1980s. There has been very little geothermal development in the state since Jerry Brown was last Governor in the early 1980s.

That could change. Candidate Brown prominently talked of introducing a system of feed-in tariffs to spur renewable energy development in California. Brown specifically mentioned developing as much as 12,000 MW of new renewable generating capacity with feed-in tariffs.

In a study for the California Energy Commission (CEC) in 2008, engineering consultant Black & Veatch examined the renewable resources available to meet California's renewable energy target and the new transmission capacity that would be needed. Included in the consultant's report, Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI), are detailed estimates of the cost to develop 244 proposed geothermal power plants at sites in California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia.

Black & Veatch considered projects as small as 8 MW to as large as 1,000 MW.

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