Enhanced Geothermal Systems could provide 10% of the overall energy demand in the United States. That means that more than 100000 MW is economically viable capacity. This would be 40 times more than the current output of geothermal plants in the US.
As with all other sources of energy, the potential of geothermal energy depends upon the available resource as well as the available technology to extract and utilize that resource. Estimates of the total potential resource vary, but various techniques using advanced drilling and low grade heat extraction/utilization technologies promise to expand this potential in the future (see citation #1). At present, geothermal remains a niche technology in use where hydrothermal activity occurs close to the Earth’s surface, as around Yellowstone and in much of California, where it provides up to a tenth of the state’s electricity supply, and Nevada, where many new projects are underway and it offers to replace much of the state’s current coal-fired generating fleet. However, there are some questions as to the accuracy of some of the more optimistic assessments of the potential of geothermal energy such as that provided by the MIT study cited by the previous commenter, and also some concerns about the possibility of induced seismic events, though these have yet to be proven (see citation #2).
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