US to boost geothermal energy use

The United States Interior Department said it would make more than 190 million acres (79 million hectares) of federal lands in 11 western states and Alaska available to power companies to develop geothermal energy resources, Reuters reported.

Interior secretary Dirk Kempthorne said the geothermal areas that will be leased could provide 5,540 megawatts of generation capacity by 2015, enough to meet the power needs of 5.5 million homes. Lands within the National Park System, such as Yellowstone National Park, would be unavailable for leasing under the final geothermal plan.

Half the geothermal leasing revenue and royalties would go to the state where the lease occurred and the relevant county would get 25%. The other 25% would go to a federal fund for investing in geothermal development.

The United States is already the world leader in geothermal energy, which uses heat sources deep in the earth to generate electricity with few carbon emissions. Twenty-nine geothermal power plants currently operate on federal lands in California, Nevada and Utah, with a total generating capacity of 1,250 megawatts, enough to supply the needs of 1.2 million homes.

See full story