See Inside October 2007

Heating Up

More than 30 states have passed or are considering “renewable energy portfolio standards” that require utility companies to generate some portion of their electricity from renewable sources. Geothermal power plants, which tap hot subterranean water or steam, are high on many lists.

Most utilities have not pursued geothermal energy primarily because up-front costs, including exploratory drilling, can be high. (Geothermal taps deep reservoirs, not groundwater, which collects much closer to the surface.) But once in operation, the plants consume no fuel and create few if any emissions. “When looking at the true costs over a plant’s lifetime, geothermal is on par with or better than a coal plant,” the least expensive conventional option, notes Gerald Nix, geothermal technology manager at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Scientific American Mind Digital

Get 6 bi-monthly digital issues
+ 1yr of archive access for just $9.99

Hurry this offer ends soon! >


Email this Article


Next Article