A critical question for the future energy policy of the United States is the extent to which geothermal resources can contribute to an ever-increasing demand for electricity. Electric power production from geothermal sources exceeds that from wind and solar combined, yet the installed capacity falls far short of the geothermal resource base characterized in past assessments, even though the estimated size of the resource in six assessments completed in the past 35 years varies by thousands of Megawatts-electrical (MWe). The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) is working closely with the Department of Energy's (DOE) Geothermal Research Program and other geothermal organizations on a three-year effort to produce an updated assessment of available geothermal resources. The new assessment will introduce significant changes in the models for geothermal energy recovery factors, estimates of reservoir permeability, limits to temperatures and depths for electric power production, and include the potential impact of evolving Enhanced (or Engineered) Geothermal Systems (EGS) technology.
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Outstanding issues for new geothermal resource assessments