» More cheap and clean geothermal energy just ahead

More cheap and clean geothermal energy just ahead

November 2, 2009 by Tom Guay
Posted in: Cost Cutting, Latest News & Views, News

Good news for those looking for ways to take a big bite out of their heating and cooling bills.

The feds just funded 123 geothermal development projects in 39 states to jumpstart development of this renewable and clean form of energy.

The payoff: 25% to 50% cheaper heating/cooling bills with a geothermal heat pump system. And the savings can be even greater for those upgrading older buildings with inefficient heating and ventilation systems.

The Department of Energy touts the grants as creating thousands of new green jobs that will help avoid creation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Geothermal is a clean energy source because the only release is steam. The energy comes from the 10 gallons of hot water produced for every barrel of oil or natural gas. The heat energy is captured and the water is recycled.

The technology can be developed in virtually all 50 states, especially in the West where there are lots of geothermal fields that have very hot water to tap. But DOE’s also funding 11 low-temperature geothermal projects in the East.

The winners of these grants, which total $338 million, include:

  • ClimateMaster, Inc., which got $233,819 to build system performance software that will allow customers to monitor cost and performance of their geothermal heating and cooling systems
  • Johnson Controls, which received $311,324 to install a geothermal system in a green building in Glendale, WI, and
  • United Technologies Research Center, which got $1.199 million to improve a condenser system so it reduces water consumption and improves cooling power.

DOE notes that geothermal power from a California facility built in the 1960s sells for $0.030 to $0.035 per kilowatt hour (kWh). A newly built geothermal plant would likely charge $0.05 per kWh during normal demand and more during peak demand periods.

In July 2009, prices for conventional electricity averaged $0.0712 per kWh for the U.S. with a low of $.0496 in Louisiana to a high of $0.1376 in New Hampshire.

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