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Geothermal Potential in Texas

Map of Texas Geothermal Potential

Susan Combs, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, has recently released a comprehensive report on energy in the state of Texas. The 33 chapter report is extensive and fact-based, covering virtually every energy source one can think of, fossil-based, renewable, and experimental. It’s really a fantastic bit of research.

Why does Texas care so much about energy? The answer is pretty simple, the average Texan consumes 3x as much energy per capita as the average US citizen and a large segment of Texas GDP is derived from energy related business. Those two facts mean that Texas suffers disproportionately as the price of energy rises but it also means that Texas has a potential advantage since it has a workforce that understands the energy business.

Chapter 21 has to do with the geothermal potential of Texas (see the map at the right) and covers co-generation as a consequence of oil/gas production, enhanced geothermal systems, and geothermal heat pumps. On the co-generation side alone, the report speculates that over 2,000MWe of production may be available. In the 1980s a 1MW co-generation test was run producing over 3,000MWh of power, but it was discontinued due to being non-cost competitive. While there are no active geothermal projects in Texas, recently leases on 11,000 acres have been granted generating over $50,000 in revenue for the state.

Of all the impact geothermal technologies could have in Texas, the most cost effective and most likely implementation is of geothermal heat pumps. A technology that effectively moves heat from the air to the ground and vice-versa. Particularly in the sweltering summer months, a GHP system could serve as a relatively inexpensive way to keep people cool as energy prices rise.

2 Comments so far

  1. Linda January 15th, 2009 4:09 pm

    As an average Texan, I am aghast that I purpotedly consume 3x’s the energy of a typical American. Why the huge disparity? Maybe there needs to be a push for conservation as well as alternative energy sources.

  2. mike January 15th, 2009 7:29 pm

    I think the extreme heat might have something to do with it…