Priorities for a Growing Geothermal Industry
Geothermal energy has substantial potential to benefit society. Through continued development geothermal offers the prospects of a reliable, broadly available power and heat energy source. To achieve its potential, federal and state policies need to support industry growth. In 2015, the priorities needed to sustain industry growth are:
Policies for the US Market
State decision makers are the key to future growth. Power purchase contracts are the driving force in the market place. At the state level:
Utility Commissions and regulators at the federal, regional and state level should encourage utilities to fully and fairly value geothermal power and its comparative benefits to the power supply system.
State and local tax and other incentives should be available across the board to geothermal and other renewable technologies.
Tax and royalty payments should be recognized and considered in decision making as part of the values of geothermal energy to state and local communities.
State renewable policies should promote both sustaining existing and developing new renewable energy resources to achieve clean energy goals.
Federal incentives for other clean or renewable technologies, such as wind and solar, should apply equally to geothermal power projects. In principle, federal renewable incentives:
Should apply to both large and small geothermal applications.
Should be designed so that companies can more easily monetize them without having to engage in complex and expensive tax equity transactions, and
Should allow companies to utilize credits at each major phase of development, i.e. drilling and power plant construction.
Federal and state agencies need to expedite the processing of geothermal permits, leases and other related actions. This includes:
Adoption of categorical exclusion for exploration activities,
- The regular update of the Programmatic Geothermal EIS by the Bureau of Land Management, and
- Modifications to leasing rules to promote successful geothermal discoveries.
Sustained federal research efforts that address key technology and market barriers is needed to achieve the future potential of the resources. They should:
- Address the range of near, mid- and longer term challenges and opportunities for utilizing geothermal heat and power.
- Prioritize efforts that can address the risks and obstacles to development, particularly the need to reduce resource risk.
- Set a strategic goal and develop a program that will characterize and identify a substantial portion of the geothermal resource base, 30,000-50,000MW, through a collaborative program with industry, academia and national research institutions.
Priorities for the International Market
The global geothermal market continues sustained growth, and is an important area of business and growth for many US companies. The range of companies and products is significant, from geologic and engineering services to drilling and power conversion facilities. For the international market:
- Government programs need to continue to recognize and support the full range of geothermal exports.
- The Association should continue to facilitate efforts that assist US firms to grow in the global market through collaboration with federal agencies and multi-lateral banks and organizations.
- Federal policies and programs should enhance their effort to support U.S. firms be able to compete in world markets and geothermal goods and services should be among the priorities for renewable exports efforts.
Adopted Unanimously by the GEA Board of Directors on April 2, 2015