Resource Profile: Geothermal Energy in Utah
In 2009 the State of Utah commissioned the Utah Renewable Energy Zones Phase I report, an extensive assessment of the various renewable resources available for development. Below is a summary of the UREZ findings on geothermal energy:
In this analysis, the authors estimate the theoretical development potential for deriving electric power from geothermal resources in Utah. Although a number of power projects are currently underway, there is a general lack of subsurface drill-hole information for individual resource areas. The effort described here uses published information from various sources, but mostly relies on deep well data and shallow thermal-gradient information. Utah’s identified higher quality geothermal resources lie within a 50-mile-wide corridor along the eastern margin of the Basin and Range Province – a corridor that also parallels Interstate 15. Geothermal power generation projects are underway in southcentral and southwestern Utah. Another project prepares to get underway along the northern Wasatch Front in Box Elder County.
The geothermal analysis incorporated the following criteria to shape the methodology: (1) screening out environmentally sensitive areas not available for development, (2) calculating reservoir volume, and (3) factoring in porosity and sweep efficiency, which characterize the ability of the reservoir to transfer heat.
Major findings from the geothermal assessment are:
• A total of 2,166 MW of geothermal development potential exists within the state.
• Utah’s identified higher-quality geothermal resources lie within a 50-mile-wide corridor along the eastern margin of the Basin and Range Province – a corridor that parallels Interstate-15.
• The estimated potential for electric generation from identified geothermal systems is approximately 754 MW.
• The total estimated potential from undiscovered geothermal systems is approximately 1,413 MW.
• The total area of the four major geothermal REZ areas (Uinta Basin included) is 5,053 square miles.