According to a new study from NYU, it would take about three billion dollars of DOE investment to get the costs of geothermal down to the cost of coal. That does seem like a fairly steep price when geothermal power seems so very free. But getting enough heat out of the ground to power turbines is no simple affair.
The study also found that previous DOE investments in geothermal provided higher returns in price drops and efficiency increases than investment in any other renewable resource.
There's a sense in the energy industry that geothermal is already a mature technology and that, unfortunately, it's never going to be practical on a large scale. However, the NYU study is pointing out that this is simply not true. New techniques are hitting geothermal from every angle. Some people are working on getting more heat out of geothermal wells, others are making electricity with cooler rocks while a third group of people are creating new ways to reach hot rocks with less money.
The study also determined (though we're not quite clear on how) that geothermal could get down to four cents per kilowatt hour with only $3 B of investment from the DOE. This seems rather fishy to me. But whether or not it will get down to grid parity, more focus on geothermal is definitely needed.
written by The Author, July 21, 2009
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