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Annual Technology Baseline 2017

National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Recommended Citation:
NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory). 2017. 2017 Annual Technology Baseline. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. http://atb.nrel.gov/.


Please consult Guidelines for Using ATB Data:
https://atb.nrel.gov/electricity/user-guidance.html

Geothermal

Hydrothermal Geothermal

Representative Technology

The typical geothermal plant size for hydrothermal resource sites is represented by a range of 30–40 MW, depending on the technology type (e.g., binary or flash) (Mines 2013).

Resource Potential

The hydrothermal geothermal resource is concentrated in the western United States. The total potential is 45,370 MW: 7,833 MW identified and 37,537 MW undiscovered (Williams et al. 2008). The U.S. Geological Survey (Williams et al. 2008) identified resource potential at each site is based on available reservoir thermal energy information from studies conducted at the site. The undiscovered hydrothermal technical potential estimate is based on a series of GIS statistical models for the spatial correlation of geological factors that facilitate the formation of geothermal systems.

map of hydrothermal resource in the western United States
Map of the favorability of occurrence for geothermal resources in the western United States
Warmer colors equate with higher favorability. Identified geothermal systems are represented by black dots.

The U.S. Geological Survey resource potential estimates for hydrothermal were used with the following modifications:

  • Installed capacity of about 3 GW in 2014 is excluded from the resource potential
  • Technical potential estimates increased 20%–30% to reflect impact of in-field enhanced geothermal system (EGS) technologies to increase (1) productivity of dry wells and (2) recovery of heat in place from hydrothermal reservoirs.

Renewable energy technical potential, as defined by Lopez et al. (2012), represents the achievable energy generation of a particular technology given system performance, topographic limitations, and environmental and land-use constraints. The primary benefit of assessing technical potential is that it establishes an upper-boundary estimate of development potential. It is important to understand that there are multiple types of potential-resource, technical, economic, and market (Lopez et al. 2012; NREL, "Renewable Energy Technical Potential").

Base Year and Future Year Projections Overview

The Base Year cost and performance estimates are calculated using Geothermal Electricity Technology Evaluation Model (GETEM), a bottom-up cost analysis tool that accounts for each phase of development of a geothermal plant (DOE "Geothermal Electricity Technology Evaluation Model").

  • Cost and performance data for hydrothermal generation plants are estimated for each potential site using GETEM. Model results are based on resource attributes (e.g., estimated reservoir temperature, depth, and potential) of each site.
  • Site attribute values are from Williams et al. (2008) for identified resource potential and from capacity-weighted averages of site attribute values of nearby identified resources for undiscovered resource potential.
  • GETEM is used to estimate CAPEX, O&M, and parasitic plant losses that affect net energy production.

Projections of CAPEX for plants installed in future years are derived from minimum learning estimates (IEA 2017). Capacity factor and O&M costs for plants installed in future years are unchanged from the Base Year. Projections for hydrothermal and EGS technologies are equivalent.

  • High cost: no change in CAPEX, O&M, or capacity factor from 2015 to 2050; consistent across all renewable energy technologies in the ATB
  • Mid cost: CAPEX cost reduction based on half of assumed minimum learning
  • Low cost: CAPEX cost reduction based on assumed minimum learning.

Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) Technology

Representative Technology

The typical geothermal plant size for EGS plants is represented by a range of 20-25 MW for binary or flash technologies (Mines 2013).

Resource Potential

The enhanced geothermal system (EGS) resource is concentrated in the western United States. The total potential is greater than 100,000 MW: 1,493 MW of near-hydrothermal field EGS (NF-EGS) and the remaining potential comes from deep EGS.

map of geothermal resource in the United States showing favorability of deep EGS
Locations of identified hydrothermal sites and favorability of deep enhanced geothermal systems (EGS)
Source: Roberts 2009
  • The NF-EGS resource potential is based on data from USGS for EGS potential on the periphery of select studied and identified hydrothermal sites.
  • The deep EGS resource potential (Augustine 2011) is based on Southern Methodist University Geothermal Laboratory temp-at-depth maps and the methodology is from MIT (2006).
  • The EGS resource is thousands of GW (16,000 GW) but many locations are likely not commercially feasible.

Renewable energy technical potential as defined by Lopez et al., (2012) represents the achievable energy generation of a particular technology given system performance, topographic limitations, environmental, and land-use constraints. The primary benefit of assessing technical potential is that it establishes an upper-boundary estimate of development potential. It is important to understand that there are multiple types of potential-resource, technical, economic, and market (Lopez et al. 2012; NREL, "Renewable Energy Technical Potential").

Base Year and Future Projections Overview

The Base Year cost and performance estimates are calculated using the Geothermal Electricity Technology Evaluation Model (GETEM), a bottom-up cost analysis tool that accounts for each phase of development of a geothermal plant (DOE "Geothermal Electricity Technology Evaluation Model").

  • Cost and performance data for EGS generation plants are estimated for each potential site using GETEM. Model results based on resource attributes (e.g., estimated reservoir temperature, depth, and potential) of each site.
  • Approaches to restrict resource potential to about 500 GW based on USGS analysis may be implemented in the future.
  • GETEM is used to estimate CAPEX and O&M. and parasitic plant losses that affect net energy production.

Projections of CAPEX for plants installed in future years are derived from minimum learning estimates (IEA 2017). Capacity factor and O&M costs for plants installed in future years are unchanged from the Base Year. Projections for hydrothermal and enhanced geothermal system technologies are equivalent.

  • High Cost: no change in CAPEX, O&M, or capacity factor from 2015 to 2050, consistent across all renewable energy technologies in the ATB
  • Mid Cost: CAPEX cost reduction based on half of assumed minimum learning
  • Low cost: CAPEX cost reduction based on assumed minimum learning.

References

Augustine, C. 2011. Updated U.S. Geothermal Supply Characterization and Representation for Market Penetration Input. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. NREL/TP-6A2-47459. October 2011. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/47459.pdf.

IEA (International Energy Agency). 2017. Reference to come.

Lopez, Anthony, Billy Roberts, Donna Heimiller, Nate Blair, and Gian Porro. 2012. U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS-Based Analysis. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. NREL/TP-6A20-51946. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/51946.pdf.

Mines, Greg. 2013. Geothermal Electricity Technology Evaluation Model. Geothermal Technologies Office. 2013 Peer Review. Washington, D.C: U.S. Department of Energy. April 22, 2013. https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/02/f7/mines_getem_peer2013.pdf.

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and INL (Idaho National Laboratory). 2006. The Future of Geothermal Energy Impact of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) on the United States in the 21st Century. Idaho Falls, ID: Idaho National Laboratory. INL/EXT-06-11746. November 2006. https://energy.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2006/11/MITEI-The-Future-of-Geothermal-Energy.pdf.

Williams, Colin F., Marshall J. Reed, Robert H. Mariner, Jacob DeAngelo, S. Peter Galanis, Jr. 2008. 'Assessment of Moderate- and High-Temperature Geothermal Resources of the United States.' Menlo Park, CA: U.S. Geological Survey. Fact Sheet 2008-3082. September 2008. https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3082/.