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Study: Geothermal showing 'strong growth'

A new report by the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) shows strong growth in new geothermal power projects continuing through 2009. U.S. Geothermal Power Production and Development Update, Sept. 2009, identifies 144 new geothermal projects under development in fourteen states that could represent as much as 7,100 megawatts (MW) of new baseload power capacity. When added to the 3,100 MW of existing capacity, 10 Gigawatts of geothermal power appears to be feasible.

The report found a total of 144 projects under development that could add between 4,699.9 and 7,109.9 MW of power to the U.S. geothermal energy output. At the high end, that would be enough baseload power to supply about 20 percent of California’s total electric power in 2008, or enough generating capacity to supply the power needs of about 7.2 million people.

In Mississippi, the report identified one project that has the potential to produce 0.5 MW. The number of states with geothermal projects under development also increased, from 12 to 14 over the past six months, with the addition of two oil-field co-production projects in Louisiana and Mississippi.

While the report shows generally good news, it also shows a decline in projects currently listed in “phase 4,” or under construction. According to GEA, this was due to four new geothermal power projects moving to completion, but also reflects difficulty obtaining final permits and difficulty obtaining financing.

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