Friday, May 22, 2009

Geothermal Getting Some Press

A piece about geothermal energy made the NY times yesterday, and is an interesting read. It basically says that geothermal is starting to show up on the radar in Washington. This to me will be the most important factor in becoming a major part of our new energy plan. Will Washington step up and come up with a plan that can work? We can sit and debate cap-and-trade all day long, but in the end, there will be little we can do about it. I'd rather make a plan on how to make a profit with the bill that comes through.

  • Efforts by Congress and the Obama administration to fast-track renewables development nationwide has the geothermal industry on the verge of an unprecedented expansion, the groundwork for which is being established by the departments of Energy and Interior.
  • The Energy Department is expected this month to announce its list of geothermal projects that will be helped along with the $400 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service are working together to streamline permitting for new geothermal projects that could occur on federal lands.
  • "Geothermal energy is, in our opinion, an undervalued option that needs a serious look and could pay off big if there is a long-range, year-to-year commitment to it," said Jefferson Tester, associate director of Cornell University's Center for a Sustainable Future and an expert on geothermal energy.

But, the article contends, it needs to be a multi-year commitment. Remember that with geothermal, like many renewable projects, the costs are often mostly upfront, and if you kill incentives and change legislation before you give it time to work, it will be hard for the projects to succeed.

  • Gawell said his members want more money spent on technology to reach existing underground resources and to locate the best sites for drilling. The Bush administration consistently cut funding for such work, industry observers say.
  • "The stimulus money would be a blessing compared to the zero dollars [the industry] has gotten in the past," Tester said. "But I'm equally as concerned about what happens next. If things go back to where they were before, it's the kiss of death."
  • "I think we have more geothermal projects under development now than at any time in history," said Gawell of the Geothermal Energy Association.

Anyway, take a look at this article. It is a good read and has a lot of info.

Meanwhile, Ormat Technologies (ORA), the geothermal stock I'm watching has come down a bit, but I'd like to get my first batch of shares below 35. We'll see, and I'll update the blog if I buy any shares.

Disclosure: None.

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