New map shows U.S. geothermal resources

Oct. 25, 2011 at 8:39 PM

DALLAS, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Researchers say U.S. geothermal resources are capable of producing more than 3 million megawatts of power, 10 times that of today's coal-fired power plants.

A study by Southern Methodist University's Geothermal Laboratory, funded by a grant from Google.org, suggests the country possesses vast reserves of this green energy source generated from the Earth's heat that are realistically accessible using current technology, an SMU release said Tuesday.

While conventional U.S. geothermal power production has been restricted largely to the western third of the country in geographically unique and tectonically active locations, the new mapping effort has identified significant areas in the eastern two-thirds of the United States, the researchers said.

"This assessment of geothermal potential will only improve with time," SMU geophysics Professor David Blackwell said. "Our study assumes that we tap only a small fraction of the available stored heat in the Earth's crust, and our capabilities to capture that heat are expected to grow substantially as we improve upon the energy conversion and exploitation factors through technological advances and improved techniques."

The map can be viewed via Google Earth at www.google.org/egs,

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