ABSTRACT: Geothermal Energy Development in California: An Objective View
TILFORD, KELLY R., and GARRY MAURATH, Ebasco Services, Inc., Sacramento, CA
Recently, the authors reassessed the geothermal energy production forecast for California's liquid-dominated geothermal reservoirs. This study used both publicly available and proprietary data from recent reservoir field studies or production records to update the forecast contribution of geothermal power to California's energy base. In doing so, they realized the complexities of the geothermal industry. As geological consultants not continually involved in geothermal projects, the authors attempt to provide an objective view of this unique form of electrical generation.
The geothermal industry may be its own worst enemy. Intense competition for a limited natural resource, a difficult regulatory and environmental climate, prohibitive electrical sales and transmission capability, attractive alternate costs for hydrocarbon-based energy, and an intensely fractionated professional community all combine as impediments to the growth of the geothermal industry. To survive, the major geothermal entities must suspend personal agendas and reach a concensus on objectives for the industry. A concerted effort will then be required to foster cooperation within private industry, strive for a more symbiotic relationship with the utilities, enhance public perception, and gain overall support to ensure geothermal energy as a viable and vital source of alternate energy or present and future electrical supply.