Geothermal power plant emissions come from existing geothermal resource gases rather than from their power generation process, a new report says.
The report, by the Geothermal Energy Association, comes as California prepares to put in place a greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade program. An n average geothermal power plant emits about 5 percent of the carbon dioxide, 1percent of the sulfur dioxide, and less than 1 percent of the nitrous oxide emitted by a coal-fired plant of equal size.
Geothermal is the largest producer of renewable power in California but so far only a small producer in Idaho. However, Boise heats many buildings using geothermally heated water.
U.S. Geothermal Inc. has a plant in Raft River Idaho and has constructed a new power plant at Neal Hot Springs in eastern Oregon, 90 miles northwest of Boise.
The geothermal industry expects its industry to grow significantly in California with a cap and trade program in place. As prices increase for coal and natural gas under the program, clean energy alternatives such as geothermal will offer a more affordable energy option.
The same will happen if and when such a program is approved nationally or its alternative, a carbon tax is put in place. Geothermal offers baseload power as a counterpart to intermittent technologies such as wind and solar.