Assessment of geothermal resources of the United States, 1975

Circular 726




This assessment of geothermal resources of the United States consists of two major parts: (1) estimates of total heat in the ground to a depth of 10 km and (2) estimates of the part of this total heat that is recoverable with present technology, regardless of price. No attempt has been made to consider most aspects of the legal, environmental, and institutional limitations in exploiting these resouces. In general, the average heat content of rocks is considerably higher in the Western United States than in the East. This also helps to explain why the most favorable hydrothermal convection systems and the hot young igneous systems occur in the West. Resources of the most attractive identified convection systems (excluding national parks) with predicted reservoir temperatures above 150 deg C have an estimated electrical production potential of about 8,000 megawatt century, or about 26,000 megawatt for 30 years. Assumptions in this conversion are: (1) one-half of the volume of the heat reservoirs is porous and permeable, (2) one-half of the heat of the porous, permeable parts is recoverable in fluids at the wellheads, and (3) the conversion efficiency of heat in wellhead fluids to electricity ranges from about 8 to 20 percent , depending on temperature and kind of fluid (hot water or steam). The estimated overall efficiency of conversion of heat in the ground to electrical energy generally ranges from less than 2 to 5 percent, depending on type of system and reservoir temperature. (See also W77-07477) (Woodard-USGS)

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Assessment of geothermal resources of the United States, 1975
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U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Geological Survey,
iv, 155 p. :ill. ;26 cm.