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Geothermal Power Projects Grow 46% in 2009

GeothermalPowerCapacityThe U.S. geothermal energy industry has a total installed capacity of 3,152.72 megawatts (MW) in states including Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, and is considered the largest renewable energy power source in California, according to a new report from the Geothermal Energy Association.

The report, “U.S. Geothermal Power Production and Development Update – Special NYC Forum Edition (PDF),” reveals that the U.S. continues to lead the world in geothermal energy capacity, and identifies up to 6,442.9 MW of new geothermal power plant capacity under development in the United States in those states as well as Oregon, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The projected 10 GW of installed capacity in the coming years over a broad section of the nation will meet the needs of more than 10 million people in 14 states and still have tremendous growth potential, says the association.

The study finds that the major source of the geothermal industry’s 46 percent growth in confirmed new power projects over the past year and 33 percent increase in employment was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, which expanded tax credits for new projects to include a 30 percent investment credit and a “cash grant” alternative.

ARRA also provided up to $400 million in new funding to implement a wide range of research, development, demonstration and deployment projects, according to the association. The report also identifies up to $342 million of federal funding currently allocated to 132 geothermal research, development, and demonstration projects in 27 states, which includes $338 million in U.S. Department of Energy funding for 123 projects.

When cost sharing among the awardees is included, the total investment in geothermal research and development over the last year increases to approximately $626 million, according to the report.

Nevada leads the way in ARRA projects with the Department of Energy funding over $70 million, which is being used to study many emerging geothermal technologies including Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) and Geothermal Hydrocarbon Co-production (GHCP).

Some organizations already tapping into geothermal energy include Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno, Nev.; ACT based in Iowa City, Iowa and NASA’s new Ames Research Center in the San Francisco Bay area.

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