USA - Electricity Generation

The present gross installed capacity for electric is 3,450 MWe with 2,542 MWe net (running), producing approximately 16,600 GWh per year. Geothermal electric power plants are located in California, Nevada, Utah and Hawaii with recent installations in Alaska, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wyoming. In the last five years, about 350 MWe have been added. California is the most important state, with the two major productive poles of The Geysers and Imperial Valley. As a world record, the lowest temperature binary cycle using 74°C geothermal fluids is operating in Chena Hot Springs in Alaska, with three units for a total of 730 kWe. The first solar PV and thermal hybrid projects has been realized in Nevada, at Stillwater, where the 48 MWe geothermal plant is fully integrated with 26 MWe of PV panels and with 17 MWth of solar thermodynamic, with an additional output of 2 MWe. The production tax credit (of 2.0 cents/kWh) and the renewable portfolio standards are sustaining a growth rate of 3.6% per year. Geothermal energy remains, however, a small contributor to the electric power capacity and generation in the United States, with an estimated contribution of 0.48 % of the total generation (Boyd, et al., 2015).

Installed capacity 3,450 MWe
Geothermal Electricity 16,600 GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


Alaska

Development since WGC2010: no new plants commissioned.

Installed capacity 0.7 MWe
Geothermal Electricity 3.9 GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


California

In California about 4.4% of the electricity generation came from geothermal power plants. In the state there are approximately 600 – 1,400 MWe of planned geothermal resource in various stages of development. The following geothermal fields are active in the state: Coso (292 MWe), East Mesa (126 MWe), Heber (236 MWe), Honey Lake (4 MWe), Hudson Ranch (50 MWe), Mammoth (40 MWe), Salton Sea (388 MWe), and The Geysers (1,584 MWe).

Development since WGC2010: a triple flash unit at Hudson Ranch, 50 MWe.

Installed capacity 2,719 MWe                
Geothermal Electricity 13,023 GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


Hawaii

All the resources are at Puna, and the plants is delivering about 25% of the electricity on the big island.

Development since WGC2010: a new 8 MWe unit at Puna.

Installed capacity 38 MWe
Geothermal Electricity 236 GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


Idaho

Only the unit at Raft River is operative. The total geothermal potential for Idaho is 60 to 300 MWe.

Development since WGC2010: no new plant.

Installed capacity 16 MW
Geothermal Electricity 90.7 GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


Nevada

Nevada is the most important state for the binary electricity production from geothermal fields, with 24 geothermal power plants with a total nameplate capacity of 576 MWe and with a total gross output of 3,500 GWh. The following geothermal fields are active in the state: Beowawe (20 MWe), Blue Mountain (50 MWe), Brady Hot Spring (26 MWe), Desert Peak (25 MWe), Dixie Valley (73 MWe), Don Campbell (16 MWe), Florida Canyon Mine (0.1 MWe), Jersey Valley (19 MWe), McGinnes Hills (52 MWe), Salt Wells (24 MWe), San Emidio (18 MWe), Soda Lake (23 MWe), Steamboat (133 MWe), Steamboat Hills (14 MWe), Stillwater (48 MWe), Tuscarora (32 MWe), and Wabuska (2 MWe). Nevada currently has 180 to 700 MWe of geothermal capacity in development.

Development since WGC2010: Tuscarora, McGinness Hills, San Emidio and Don A. Campbell for 134 MWe.

Installed capacity 576 MWe                   
Geothermal Electricity 3,456 GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


Florida

Florida Canyon Mine (0.1 MWe)

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report, Abstract: Nevada

Florida was second only to Texas in 2014 in net electricity generation from natural gas, which accounted for 61% of Florida's net generation; coal accounted for almost 23%, the state’s nuclear power plants accounted for 12%, and other resources, including renewable energy, supplied the remaining electricity generation.

Source: www.eia.gov/state/


New Mexico

In the country the first binary unit at Lightening Dock has been commissioned in 2014, with a planned addition up to 20 MWe.

Development since WGC2010: Lightening Dock for 4 MWe.

Installed capacity 4 MWe                       
Geothermal Electricity n/a GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


Oregon

In the state the electricity production has been increased at Neal Hot Spring, after the small plant of Klamath Falls. Overall there are 60 to 300 MWe of potential geothermal power capacity under development.

Development since WGC2010: Neal Hot Spring for 23 MWe.

Installed capacity 24 MWe                      
Geothermal Electricity n/a GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


Utah

There are three productive fields: Cove Fort (26 MWe), Roosevelt (37 MWe) and Thermo Hot Spring (10 MWe).

Development since WGC2010: Cove Fort for 26 MWe.

Installed capacity 73 MWe                     
Geothermal Electricity 387 GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


Wyoming

Only a small pilot plant is in operation at Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center.

Development since WGC2010: no new plant.

Installed capacity 0.2 MWe                     
Geothermal Electricity 0.5 GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


Installed geothermal generating capacity per state (2009) in MW

California2,553
Nevada442
Utah46
Hawaii35
Idaho16
Alaska0.7
Oregon0.3
New Mexico0.2
Wyoming0.2
Total3,093

Geothermal electric power plants are located (or planned) in Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. 

The total installed capacity of the country is around 3 GW, but with only about 2 GW actually running, with an important increase on year 2005 of 12% (about 500 MW of new plants). A total of new projects for 2.4 GW are currently under construction or in advanced planning stage. The total geothermal electricity of about 17 GWh is equivalent to 4% of the entire renewable energy production of the country.

Alaska

The first geothermal power plant in this state was installed in 2006, at Chena Hot Springs. It is a binary plant, producing 225 kW from the coldest geothermal resource worldwide: only 74°C. A second twin unit has been added, and a third one of 280 kW is under commissioning phase reaching the total installed capacity of 730 kW, which is quite relevant for the local economy of such off-grid remote location.

California

Since 2005, the following new plants have been realized in California: 10 MW (Gould), 10 MW (Heber South), 49 MW (North Brawley) binary units in Heber field (Imperial Valley), and the new unit Bottle Rock 2 for 55 MW dry steam at The Geyser. However in California the geothermal capacity of about 2.5 GW is contributing to 4.5% at the electricity generation of the state, with an electricity production of about 12 TWh. Several new projects are in advanced stage of realization. The relevant geothermal power plants are listed as following:

FieldUnitsInstalled Capacity [MW]
The Geyser261,585
Imperial ValleyEast Mesa6120
Imperial ValleyHeber25205
Imperial ValleySalton Sea13329
Coso9270
Mammoth1040
Honey Lake34
California922,553

The Geyser (Calpine and Northern California Power Agency): 26 dry steam units, for a total of about 1.6 GW installed capacity (but only 900 MW running), with new units under advanced realization stage. Its newest addition is Bottle Rock 2, 55 MW in 2007. The Geysers Geothermal field, the largest geothermal field in the world, is about 100 km north of San Francisco, California. The field started production in 1960, and by 1987 the production peaked 1,500 MW (installed capacity 2,043 MW). Unfortunately, a rapid decline in production started. 

An unique public-private collaboration began from several municipalities, constructing a 42 km long pipeline to transport treated effluent to The Geysers for injection in 1997. By the end of 2003, another pipeline was completed. The current mass replacement from both pipelines and other sources is about 85% of production. This has resulted in sustained steam production, a decrease in non-condensable gases, improved electric generation efficiency, and lower air emissions. The additional electricity generated as a result of these two pipelines is about 155 MW per year.

Imperial Valley-East Mesa, with 6 units for 120 MW of installed capacity, in operation since 1986-1989, by Ormat.

Imperial Valley-Heber, 205 MW of installed capacity with 25 units; and an intense planned activity by Ormat, with a short term target of 270 MW. In this field the new plants of Gould (2x5 MW binary, in 2006), Heber South (10 MW binary, in 2008) and the recent North Brawley (7x7 MW binary, in 2009) have been commissioned.

Imperial Valley-Salton Sea, with 13 units for 333 MW, operated by CalEnergy, and new units planned for a total of 330 MW, after the last additions in year 2000.

COSO (Terra Gen), nine unites for an installed capacity of 270 MW, without any further planned development, in operation since 1987-1989.

Mammoth, 10 units for 40 MW operated by a consortium Constellation/Ormat, commissioned in 1984 and 1990.

Honey Lake: only three small binary units are operating since 1988 (Amedee) and 1985 (Wineagle). The geothermal contribution from the hybrid HL Power, which uses geothermal as a wood chip dryer and a boiler preheat for 36 MW biomass unit, can be accounted as 1.5 MW, even if recent information are indicating the strong reduction in well flow rate, and probably the geothermal electricity production is not operative anymore, but only the heat is used for boiler preheat and wood chip drying.

Enel Green Power is launching a 20 MW green field project in Surprise Valley.

Florida

A small binary unit of 200 kW will be installed (Jay/Mobile ORC project).

Hawaii

No new addition at the existing ten binary units of 35 MW installed capacity (30 MW running, after rehabilitation and work over) has been done since 2005. This power plant, commissioned in 1993, supplies approximately 20% of the total electricity need of the Big Island (160,000 inhabitants). A further 25 MW of expansion is also planned by Ormat, with the target of 60 MW in the near future.

Idaho

In 2007 the construction of the first geothermal power plant in Idaho was finished at Raft River by US Geothermal: a binary plant with a nameplate production capacity of 15.8 MW. Currently, net electrical power output is between 10.5 and 11.5 MW.
The facility is using existing wells of the decommissioned 5 MW binary plant (operated from 1974 to 1982). An expansion to this plant is underway, as well as several other projects in the state.

Nevada

Several companies are actively involved in geothermal development in Nevada: Enel Green Power, Ormat, TerraGen, Magma and Nevada Geothermal Power.
Several new binary plants have been commissioned since 2005: 50 MW at Blue Mountain (Faulkner) in 2009, 23 MW at Desert Peak II in 2006, the new Enel Green Power plants at Salt Wells (24 MW) and Stillwater (2x24 MW) in 2009, Galena II in 2007, III in 2008 and Burdett in 2005 at Steamboat (5 units for 75 MW).

The relevant geothermal power plants are listed below: 

FieldUnitsInstalled Capacity [MW]
Beowave117
Brady326
Blue Mountain 50
Desert Peak223
Dixie Valley167
S. Emidio4 5
Salt Wells 24
Soda Lake1026
Steamboat 140
Steamboat Hills114
Stillwater 48
Wabuska2 2
Nevada 442

No changes for Beowave (17 MW, in operation since 1985, Beowawe Power), Brady Hot Spring (three units on 9 MW each since 1992, Ormat), Dixie Valley (62 MW in an unit installed in 1988, Terra Gen), 5 MW in S. Emidio (four units since 1987, US Geothermal) and Wabuska, with two small binary units.

In Soda Lake, ten units installed in 1987 and 1991 for a total 26 MW, no specific development is foreseen by Magma Energy.

At Steamboat Hills (Ormat) a new 12 MW binary plant is planned, in addition at the present 20 MW flash unit, commissioned in 1988.

A new 30 MW binary plant at Galena (Steamboat field) has been commissioned in 2008, with further two units planned by Ormat, with additional 35 MW. Refurbishment of the old Steamboat II has been completed. Moreover, 13 MW at Galena II in 2007 and 2x15 MW at Burdett plant in 2005 started their operative lives. The total capacity of Steamboat complex is 135 MW.

Further additions are foreseen for Desert Peak (30 MW, after the commissioning of unit II of 23 MW in 2006) by Ormat.

Another important realization has been commissioned by Enel Green Power, with 24+48 MW at Salt Wells and Stillwater, after the decommissioning of the old binary units (13 MW, operative at Stillwater since 1989).

In 2009 Nevada Geothermal Power commissioned its 50 MW binary plant Faulkner 1 at Blue Mountain.
After the recent BLM tender for several geothermal leases in Nevada, it is expected an intense construction activity in the near future.

New Mexico

Raser Technologies installed a pilot binary unit of 240 kW. The full project, Lightning Dock, is designed to produce 10 MW of electrical power and it is expected to go online in the coming years.

Oregon

No private investors have been done any project in this state. However, the Oregon Institute of Technology completed for its campus the installation of a small 280 kW binary unit, which will be on line in 2010.
Two major projects at Newberry and Crump Geyser are in advanced stage of realization, for an aggregate capacity of 160 MW.

Utah

The Fort Cove plant has been shut down; the only existing unit in the state is Roosevelt, with 36 MW of installed capacity, from two binary units: 25 MW and a new 11 MW commissioned in 2007; it is operated by Pacific Corporation.
Utah got its second power plant in 2008, when Thermo Hot Springs went online, with 50 small binary units for an aggregate capacity of 10 MW (Raser Technologies).
Enel Green Power is launching a two step project of installing binary units at Fort Cove, with an initial 20 MW projects and an additional one for a total of 40 MW.

Wyoming

The Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center (RMOTC) is located at the Teapot Dome oil field, also known as the Naval Petroleum Reserve, operated by the Department of Energy as a test site for oil and gas and renewable energy related technologies.
A small binary unit of 250 kW has been installed in 2009.

USA Conclusion

In total, in the USA there are about 2 million km2 of geothermal areas, with an estimated potential of 9 GW, which can be generated by the known geothermal resources, mainly in the western states, where Nevada and California represent more than 80% of all the planned projects. Only a strong effort, in term of legislative support and assistance in reducing the duration from the beginning of a geothermal project (lease acquisition) and the effective starting of electricity generation, which can sum up to 5-8 years, can be a key driver for reaching the ambitious target of an exponential increase in the geothermal electricity in the US (and in the world!). 

Taken from Ruggero Bertani’s paper, " Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2005–2010 Update Report ", published in Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress 2010, Bali, Indonesia, 25-29 April 2010.