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.
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!