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GEOTHERMAL ENERGY Texas

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GEOTHERMAL ENERGY Texas ( geothermal-energy-texas )

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Chapter 7 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY Introduction Texas has the ability to be a U.S. leader in reducing the environmental impact of fossil fuel electrical generation by using renewable geothermal resources that range from just below the Earth’s surface to deep within the Earth. This geothermal resource is important because its production inside the Earth is constant and independent of the many natural, changing surface conditions that affect other renewable energy resources. Multiple studies of Texas geothermal resources have been completed. The Department of Energy funded geothermal research projects in the 1970s and 1980s as part of a geopressured-geothermal resources study for the Gulf Coast region. There are many reports on Texas geopressured- geothermal resources available at http://www.osti.gov. On a statewide scale, the Texas geothermal resource was initially investigated and mapped by Charles Woodruff, et al. (1982). The map they produced is still available through the University of Texas, Bureau of Economic Geology. As part of the Texas Renewable Energy Resource Assessment in 1995, Janet Valenza completed the Geothermal Assessment, Chapter 8. In 2006 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Report: The Future of Geothermal Energy, Impact of Enhanced Geothermal Systems for the 21st Century was published describing all of the United States’ geothermal resources, including specific tables on resources for Texas. Recently, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts released a report on energy in Texas, including a section on geothermal resources (May 2008). This chapter is an extension of these reports with the goal to update and augment the knowledge base of geothermal resources specifically in Texas. Significance of Resource: Historical, Present and Future Uses Geothermal energy can be defined by splitting it into its components, geo meaning ‘Earth’ and thermal meaning ‘heat’, making geothermal the heat within the Earth. Geothermal energy represents the natural, internal heat of the Earth that is stored within the rock and fluid. In this chapter, the “geothermal resource” is the energy from inside the Earth that is accessible for humans to use. Most of the heat inside the Earth originates from the natural decay of radioactive elements. Through various thermal processes, this heat is slowly transferred to the surface of the Earth where it can be accessed to provide for various human needs. The Geo-Heat Center at the Oregon Institute of Technology (http://geoheat.oit.edu) devised a simplified geothermal classification system based on the temperature of the resource (Exhibit 7-1). This classification system defines geothermal energy in terms of temperature (low, moderate, and high temperature resources) and how the geothermal heat can be utilized. As Exhibit 7-1 indicates, geothermal energy has many uses besides the most well-known applications—electrical power production and geothermal heat pumps. For the purposes of this chapter, geothermal resources are divided into three main categories: Geothermal HVAC systems, Direct Use of heated water, and electrical power production. Texas Renewable Energy Resource Assessment Geothermal Energy 7-1 Chapter Seven Geothermal Energy Chapter 7 Geothermal Energy Introduction Significance of Resource: Historical, Present and Future Uses Development Issues for Texas: Special Considerations for large-scale use Texas Geothermal Resources Texas Geothermal Resource Details Quantification of Resource Base Geothermal Resource Variability Geothermal Energy Utilization Current Geothermal Resource Use in Texas Conversion Technology Infrastructure Considerations Economics Costs Benefits Key Issues Information Sources Fundamental Data Collection Information Sources References

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