Nevada to experience a massive geothermal industry boom over the next three decades

Geothermal energy is heat extracted from the earth that can be harnessed for use in myriad ways, from large-scale electricity generation to home heating and cooling and even agricultural and industrial uses. It is unique from other forms of renewable energy such as solar and wind in that it can provide power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And for states like Nevada with an abundance of this natural resource beneath their feet, the geothermal industry is on the brink of a massive boom.

According to the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), a United States trade association dedicated to the expansion of geothermal energy worldwide, Nevada currently has 86 such projects either under construction or slated for development. This equates to a total of slightly more than 3,686 megawatts of power that will be added to the state’s energy mix—enough to meet the electricity needs of all the homes in the entire Las Vegas metropolitan area. The GEA also estimates that if Nevada keeps developing its geothermal resources at this pace over the next 30 years, the market could be worth $22.5 billion by 2040. Already, 20 of the projects are designated to receive $73.6 million in stimulus funds from the Department of Energy, creating more than 1,000 jobs in the process. Explains Karl Gawell, executive director of the association, “This high volume of geothermal projects moving into final stages of development will likely generate a massive geothermal boom in Nevada. Along with the millions of dollars in federal and private investment come thousands of new jobs.”

The development of Nevada’s geothermal powerhouse will also help it to offset over 23.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually while reaching its renewable energy target by 2013.