skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Update on Geothermal Direct-Use Installations in the United States

Abstract

Direct-use of geothermal energy currently has limited penetration in the United States, with an estimated installed capacity of about 500 MWth, supplying on the order of 0.01% of the total annual U.S. heat demand (about 30 EJ). We see higher penetration levels in other countries such as Iceland (about 90%) and Hungary (2.5%). An updated database of geothermal direct-use systems in the U.S. has been compiled and analyzed, building upon the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) Geo-Heat Center direct-use database. Types of directuse applications examined include hot springs resorts and pools, aquaculture farms, greenhouses, and district heating systems, among others; power-generating facilities and ground-source heat pumps were excluded. Where possible, the current operation status, open and close dates, well data, and other technical data were obtained for each entry. The database contains 545 installations, of which 407 are open, 108 are closed, and 30 have an unknown status. Spas are the most common type of installation, accounting for 50% of installations by number. Aquaculture installations (46 out of 407 open installations) account for the largest percentage (26%) of installed capacity in operation (129 MWth out of 501 MWth). Historical deployment curves show the installed capacity significantly increased in the 1970smore » and 1980s mainly due to development of geothermal district heating, aquaculture, and greenhouse systems. Since the 2000s, geothermal direct-use development appears to have slowed, and the number of sites in operation decreased due to closures. Case studies reveal multiple barriers to geothermal direct-use implementation and operation, including 1) existence of an information gap among stakeholders, developers, and the general public, 2) competition from cheap natural gas, and 3) the family-owned, small-scale nature of businesses might result in discontinuation among generations.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [2]
  1. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
  2. Georgia State University
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Geothermal Technologies Office (EE-4G)
OSTI Identifier:
1394114
Report Number(s):
NREL/CP-5500-67865
DOE Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: Presented at the 42nd Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, 13-15 February 2017, Stanford University, Stanford, California
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
15 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; direct-use; geothermal; installations; market; barriers

Citation Formats

Beckers, Koenraad J, Young, Katherine R, and Snyder, Diana M. Update on Geothermal Direct-Use Installations in the United States. United States: N. p., 2017. Web.
Beckers, Koenraad J, Young, Katherine R, & Snyder, Diana M. Update on Geothermal Direct-Use Installations in the United States. United States.
Beckers, Koenraad J, Young, Katherine R, and Snyder, Diana M. Wed . "Update on Geothermal Direct-Use Installations in the United States". United States. doi:.
@article{osti_1394114,
title = {Update on Geothermal Direct-Use Installations in the United States},
author = {Beckers, Koenraad J and Young, Katherine R and Snyder, Diana M.},
abstractNote = {Direct-use of geothermal energy currently has limited penetration in the United States, with an estimated installed capacity of about 500 MWth, supplying on the order of 0.01% of the total annual U.S. heat demand (about 30 EJ). We see higher penetration levels in other countries such as Iceland (about 90%) and Hungary (2.5%). An updated database of geothermal direct-use systems in the U.S. has been compiled and analyzed, building upon the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) Geo-Heat Center direct-use database. Types of directuse applications examined include hot springs resorts and pools, aquaculture farms, greenhouses, and district heating systems, among others; power-generating facilities and ground-source heat pumps were excluded. Where possible, the current operation status, open and close dates, well data, and other technical data were obtained for each entry. The database contains 545 installations, of which 407 are open, 108 are closed, and 30 have an unknown status. Spas are the most common type of installation, accounting for 50% of installations by number. Aquaculture installations (46 out of 407 open installations) account for the largest percentage (26%) of installed capacity in operation (129 MWth out of 501 MWth). Historical deployment curves show the installed capacity significantly increased in the 1970s and 1980s mainly due to development of geothermal district heating, aquaculture, and greenhouse systems. Since the 2000s, geothermal direct-use development appears to have slowed, and the number of sites in operation decreased due to closures. Case studies reveal multiple barriers to geothermal direct-use implementation and operation, including 1) existence of an information gap among stakeholders, developers, and the general public, 2) competition from cheap natural gas, and 3) the family-owned, small-scale nature of businesses might result in discontinuation among generations.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Feb 15 00:00:00 EST 2017},
month = {Wed Feb 15 00:00:00 EST 2017}
}

Conference:
Other availability
Please see Document Availability for additional information on obtaining the full-text document. Library patrons may search WorldCat to identify libraries that hold this conference proceeding.

Save / Share:
  • Geothermal energy is estimated to currently supply approximately 13,885 TJ/yr (13,180 x 10{sup 9} BTU/yr) of heat energy through direct heat applications in the United States. Table 1 summarizes the U.S. geothermal direct heat uses. It should be noted that Table 1 does not contain enhanced oil recovery, which was included in the 1990 update report. In the oil fields of the upper midwest (Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming), thermal waters are not being injected at higher temperatures than the oil producing zones. This means that there is no benefit to reducing oil viscosity, which would have increased production rates;more » therefore, resulting in this use being deleted from direct uses in the table. In the 1990 report two geothermal district heating systems were listed as under construction, Mammoth Lakes and Bridgeport, these systems have not been built although exploratory wells have been drilled. They are not included in the current summary of direct uses. There have been no new geothermal district heating systems started; however, San Bernardino and Klamath Falls have expanded their systems. Annual energy use of direct heat applications reported for both the 1990 and 1994 updates are shown. All of the categories experienced some increase in use, however the largest growth has been in geothermal heat pumps. From 1985 to 1990 the highest growth rate in geothermal heat pumps occurred, then tapered off some from 1990 to 1994. In the other five categories there has been a steady growth with the largest occurring in space heating, greenhouses and industrial plants. Greenhouse development has been significant in New Mexico and Utah and a new onion and garlic dehydration plant was built in Nevada.« less
  • The United States is continuing to experience a significant growth rate in the use of low- and moderate-temperature geothermal resources for direct use applications, which is making an increasing contribution to the United States energy demands. This paper provides an overview of how and where geothermal energy is being used, the extent of that use, and what the development trends and concerns appear to be. The applications discussed include industrial processes, heat pumps (heating and cooling), pools and spas, aquaculture and agriculture applications, and space and district heating projects. 3 tabs.
  • Prior to about 1973, geothermal most direct use projects in the United States involved pool/spa applications and limited district and space heating systems. The oil price shocks of the 1970's revived interest in the use of geothermal energy as an alternative energy source. Accordingly, the US Department of Energy initiated numerous programs that caused significant growth of this industry. These programs involved technical assistance to developers, the preparation of project feasibility studies for potential users, cost sharing of demonstration projects (space and district heating, industrial, agriculture, and aquaculture), resource assessments, loan guarantees, support of state resource and commercialization activities, andmore » others. Also adding to the growth were various federal and state tax credits. The use of groundwater-source heat pumps contributed to the growth, starting in 1980. The growth of direct use project development was quite closely monitored during the late 1970's and early 1980's when the USDOE program activities were extensive. Periodic updating of the status of the projects has been occasional but limited since that time. In order to obtain a better understanding of the current geothermal direct use market, the Oregon Institute of Technology Geo-Heat Center (OIT), under contract to the US Department of Energy, launched an extensive data-gathering effort in the spring of 1988. The results of that effort are incorporated into this paper. The Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) (also funded by the Department of Energy) and OIT, through their continuing contacts with the geothermal industry, including state energy offices, are familiar with development trends and concerns; this information is also presented. 3 tabs.« less
  • Since the founding of the Geo-Heat Center in 1975 a number of historic and significant geothermal direct utilization events have been described and documented in the Geo-Heat Center Bulletin and other references. These projects are listed chronologically.