Quantifying the Undiscovered Geothermal Resources of the United States

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Conference Paper: Quantifying the Undiscovered Geothermal Resources of the United States

In 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released summary results of an assessment of the electric power production potential from the moderate- and high-temperature geothermal resources of the United States (Williams et al., 2008a; USGS Fact Sheet 2008-3082; http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3082). In the assessment, the estimated mean power production potential from undiscovered geothermal resources is 30,033 Megawatts-electric (MWe), more than three times the estimated mean potential from identified geothermal systems: 9057 MWe. The presence of significant undiscovered geothermal resources has major implications for future exploration and development activities by both the government and private industry. Previous reports summarize the results of techniques applied by the USGS and others to map the spatial distribution of undiscovered resources. This paper describes the approach applied in developing estimates of the magnitude of the undiscovered geothermal resource, as well as the manner in which that resource is likely to be distributed among geothermal systems of varying volume and temperature. A number of key issues constrain the overall estimate. One is the degree to which characteristics of the undiscovered resources correspond to those observed among identified geothermal systems. Another is the evaluation of exploration history, including both the spatial distribution of geothermal exploration activities relative to the postulated spatial distribution of undiscovered resources and the probability of successful discoveries from the application of standard geothermal exploration techniques. Also significant are the physical, chemical, and geological constraints on the formation and longevity of geothermal systems

Colin F. Williams, Marshall J. Reed, Jacob DeAngelo and S. Peter Galanis Jr

GRC Annual Meeting; Reno, NV; 2009/10/04

Geothermal Resources Council, 2009

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Internet link for Quantifying the Undiscovered Geothermal Resources of the United States

Colin F. Williams, Marshall J. Reed, Jacob DeAngelo, S. Peter Galanis Jr. 2009. Quantifying the Undiscovered Geothermal Resources of the United States. In: GRC Transactions. GRC Annual Meeting; 2009/10/04; Reno, NV. Davis, CA: Geothermal Resources Council; p. 995-1004