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Comments about ‘Utah a hotbed for nation's geothermal growth in 2013’

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Published: Friday, May 2 2014 5:00 p.m. MDT

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Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

Drill, Baby, Drill!

What's nice about geothermal is that it is a base load power, meaning it can operate 24/7, and some stats I read recently said that geothermal has higher capacity factors (meaning when it is producing power at maximum capacity) than coal and nuclear. Wind's capacity factor averages about 33 percent, and solar is about 25 percent.

Also, a geothermal plant isn't an eye sore, like a nuclear and coal fired power plant or a strip mine or a coal-blasted mountain top. Geothermal plants can be enclosed in neutral-looking buildings, sometimes right in the heart of a community, and people would never know they are power facilities.

Chempianos
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Baron, your comments are right on the button. There are some interesting new developments in geothermal energy as well; one company, GreenFire Energy (in the interest of full disclosure, it's the one in which I am a partner), has developed technology that generates geothermal energy without consuming any water. In the Mountain West, that's a real plus. Utah's state government has been helpful to geothermal by attempting to make the permitting process more straightforward.

Why haven't we seen more geothermal energy here? Two factors, both related to finances. First, drilling can be risky, since you don't always hit the combination of factors needed. Second, geothermal takes a while to develop. With wind power, it's very quick to start producing power; geothermal takes a lot longer. In general, investors value a quick return more than almost anything else. Our newest technologies greatly reduce the drilling risk, and possibly the time to commercial operation. Stay tuned - geothermal has a great future in Utah!

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