Like solar thermal power, geothermal power is too often neglected. Indeed, the Bush administration has proposed zeroing out the geothermal energy program for two years running.
But a major 2007 study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, “The Future of Geothermal Energy” (a 372-page PDF) reveals the potential if we redouble our efforts toward this zero-carbon power source. The MIT-led panel of scientists, economic experts, and engineers found that Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) that use “heat-mining technology, which is designed to extract and utilize the earth’s stored thermal energy” could contribute 10% of baseload power by mid-century:
The panel thinks that with a combined public/private investment of about $800 million to $1 billion over a 15-year period, EGS technology could be deployed commercially on a timescale that would produce more than 100,000 MWe or 100 GWe of new capacity by 2050. This amount is approximately equivalent to the total R&D investment made in the past 30 years to EGS internationally, which is still less than the cost of a single, new-generation, clean-coal power plant.