A resource in central Alaska is showing promise for geothermal development—the renewable energy that draws on Earth’s natural heat for electricity and other uses. The myriad benefits of this clean, domestic power source make geothermal exploration an attractive proposition for this state, where off-grid demand means that Alaskans often use expensive, polluting diesel power.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there is up to 500 gigawatts of untapped geothermal energy in the United States, enough to power millions of homes. A new study by JASON, an independent advisory group of world-class scientists, illustrates how this resource can be developed to generate renewable electricity for future generations.
This year marks the centennial of the first commercial electricity production from geothermal resources. As geothermal technologies advance, the Energy Department is working to improve, and lower the cost of, enhanced geothermal systems.
Since 1960, steam from the 45 square mile field spanning Lake and Sonoma counties has been extracted to drive turbines and generate baseload renewable electricity. Fifty years later, Houston-based Calpine Corporation operates 15 geothermal plants at The Geysers.