Quick Facts:
Geothermal Energy

What is Geothermal Energy ?

Geothermal energy is energy stored in the form of heat within the Earth. This heat is continuously generated by natural geologic processes taking place below the surface. While the land surface where we walk is relatively cool, geothermal heat increases with depth all the way to the core of the Earth. Geothermal energy, in the form of heat, can be harvested by bringing hot water and steam trapped in rocks up to the surface. Steam-driven geothermal power plants have been producing sustainable, green energy for over 100 years. In fact, the oldest geothermal power plant was built in 1911 in Larderello, Italy and is still producing power today! The geology of the western US is particularly well-suited to geothermal energy production, and a large percentage of the world’s geothermally-produced power is generated in the western states.

 

Traditional, or conventional, geothermal power production relies on the availability of heat, the natural permeability of rock and the presence of naturally-occurring hot water and steam systems below the surface. While these systems are effective, geothermal reservoirs can decline in temperature, pressure and steam availability over time, decreasing the efficiency of power production. Engineered or Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) use modern technology to generate permeability at new geothermal sites, or improve conditions at existing power plants. AltaRock’s patented EGS technology, combined with industry experience and expertise can reduce investment risk at greenfield geothermal projects and improve conditions and extend the life of existing geothermal wells at existing sites. Geothermal energy and EGS are the future of energy, producing reliable base load (24/7) power through sustainable, Earth-friendly engineering and operations practices.

Why Use Geothermal Energy ?

Much of the electricity used in the US and abroad is generated by burning fossil fuels. Fossils fuels damage the environment, both when extracted from the Earth and when burned to create energy. However, the Earth’s population continues to rely on non-renewable fossil fuels for power production. Looking ahead at the accelerating energy demands of the future, no single clean technology – not wind, not solar, not nuclear power – can meet the future energy needs of more than seven billion people living on our planet. Our growing energy demand requires a mosaic of energy sources which draw from a variety of renewable resources.

Low Cost

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The cost to operate geothermal projects is low. In fact, the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) for an EGS utility scale project at the Cayuga power plant is below 8.5 cents per kWh (kilowatt hour) at depths of 4.5 km. 

Clean Technology & Small Footprint

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Abundant

Geothermal resource is enormous and widespread. As shown on the map, most regions of the United States have geothermal potential, as indicated by all areas with yellow or warmer colors.  Geothermal resource is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, whereas solar and wind energy production are limited by availability of the resources - solar power production cannot occur unless the sun is shining, and wind power production cannot occur unless the wind is blowing.

Enhanced Geothermal Energy Systems

Geothermal power is a reliable, clean source of power that provides baseload electricity 24/7 rain or shine. Geothermal power plants have the least down-time of any source of power including coal, gas, oil, hydro, solar, wind, or nuclear. Geothermal plants emit only a tiny fraction of the emissions that fossil fuel powered plants do, and there is a seemingly endless amount of heat near the Earth’s surface that remains untapped for power production