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U.S. digs into old files to tap into enormous geothermal energy potential

Universities and federal agencies in the U.S. are collaborating on a project to gather old data on over 1.25 million oil, gas, water and thermal wells.


Universities and federal agencies in the U.S. are collaborating on a project to gather old data on over 1.25 million oil, gas, water and thermal wells.

According to an article in by William Ferguson in Scientific American dated February 25, the legacy data is from extensive surveys that were funded in various U.S. states in the 1970s to 1990s, but then was filed and forgotten.

One survey of geopressured resources that was completed between 1975 to 1992 by the Department of Environment in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, documented data from 16 wells off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas. The researchers found the wells contained the energy equivalent to the conventional natural gas reserves of the entire U.S.

The Arizona Geological Survey is leading the coalition to collect the old data for a National Geothermal Data System (NGDS). The goal is to pinpoint deep wells that can be viably developed to tap their thermal energy.

Another survey being done by the Arizona Geological Survey using a grant from Google.org has digitized data from 35,000 different locations and found that the geothermal energy can generate 3 million megawatts of renewable electricity — about 10 times the energy capacity of U.S. coal plants.

The wells that are being studied are for “enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), which involve technologies that can draw energy from 3 to 5 kilometres below the earth’s surface.

To read the article in Scientific American, click here.