2021 U.S. Geothermal Market Report Released

Geothermal Rising is proud to have collaborated with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in producing this assessment of the current state of the geothermal industry.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has just published the much-anticipated 2021 U.S. Geothermal Power Production and District Heating Market Report. This report provides interested stakeholders with up-to-date information and data reflecting the 2019 geothermal power production and district heating markets.

This unique report captures domestic capacity and usage for geothermal power production and district heating and cooling, The report also evaluates the impact of state and federal policy, presents current research on geothermal development, and describes future opportunities for the domestic geothermal market and industry.
Jody Robins, NREL senior geothermal engineer and lead author

The report captures domestic capacity and usage for geothermal power production and district heating and cooling, while also discussing the impact of state and federal policy and future opportunities for the domestic geothermal market and industry.

Some of the highlights of the report include:

  • United States geothermal power capacity increased from 3.627 gigawatts (GW) to 3.673 GW from the end of 2015 through the end of 2019.
  • The United States brought seven new geothermal power plants online during this same timeframe, adding 186 megawatts (MW) of nameplate capacity, while 11 plants were retired or classified as nonoperational, subtracting 103 MW of nameplate capacity.
  • Nine new geothermal Power Purchase Agreements have been signed across four states since late 2019, including plans for the first two geothermal power plants to be built in California in a decade.
  • Geothermal companies operating in the United States have a combined 58 active developing projects and prospects across nine states.  Five of these projects are in Phase 4, the phase immediately preceding project completion.
  • There are currently 23 geothermal district heating (GDH) systems in the United States. The oldest installation dates from 1892 (Boise, Idaho), and the most recent installation was completed in 2017 (Alturas, California)
  • U.S. GDH systems tend to be significantly smaller in size (average of 4 MWth) than European GDH systems (continent-wide average of ~17 MWth), and orders of magnitude smaller than the average GDH system in China (~1,000 MWth)

“After working with the NREL and Geothermal Rising team on this informative and must-read report, it's clear that geothermal energy, both power plants and district-heating systems, needs significantly increased demand and resource development at the same time for substantive and sustained industry growth, as envisaged by DOE’s GeoVision report”, commented Geothermal Rising Executive Director, Will Pettitt. “To facilitate that growth the industry needs the following assistance: 1) outreach that enables the acceptance of geothermal energy as a viable clean and renewable energy source that can meet state targets, and that is differentiated from other energy sources by the character of its benefits to society; 2) technology R&D that can lead to more efficient exploration, characterization, and engineering of geothermal resources, and that expands the reach of geothermal energy to any geographic area; and, 3) incentive programs that actively de-risk resource development projects, along the lines of the successes achieved in the US in the 1980s and/or seen elsewhere around the world today, that help standardize budgeting and scheduling metrics so as to promote up-front project investment and advance exploration.”

Cover of 2021 Geothermal Market Report
Access the report by clicking the "Download PDF" button in the upper right of this page