- Create regional geothermal development plans to combine resources (drill rig, exploration equipment, expertise)
- Consensus is that power is highest use of geothermal in power generation, however there should also be an assessment of the potential for other uses such as for greenhouses (food production), mineral processing center operation in Aleutians, absorption chilling, and producing alternative fuels. Mineral recovery from geothermal brines is also a possible area for research
- Develop a state drilling program as part of the state energy plan
- Put together set of criteria that helps rank and prioritize projects throughout the state
- Consider ground source heat pumps in areas where appropriate
It could be argued that geothermal energy is one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly energy resources that can be developed. Unfortunately, geothermal heat needs to be close enough to the surface and in the right geologic setting to make it economically feasible for development. This rare occurrence in Alaska. It is tantalizing to presume that if one drills deep enough there will be a heat resource that can be exploited, but experience in the development of deep subsurface fluid flow systems shows a sobering reality regarding the extreme costs and risks associated with these activities. Nevertheless, in areas where large geothermal resources are present and relatively easily accessible, geothermal electrical power generation has been shown to be cost competitive with large-scale coal, natural gas, or nuclear power generation. In remote areas, such as the islands of Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines, where other forms of energy are expensive and difficult to come by, geothermal power generation, is the dominant method of power generation and some fields have now been operating for almost 50 years. The primary challenge for developing geothermal power when the potential exists is locating, developing, and managing the resource in an economic manner.
With continued research and development, a wide variety of geothermal power plants has been designed and built to operate on a wide variety of resources with temperatures ranging from 165°F - 650°F. Continued research in areas such as EGS will be important in furthering the value of geothermal energy as a substantial energy alternative.
As new technology is brought forth, the geothermal resources present in Alaska should be constantly evaluated and developed where physically and economically feasible. The remote location of a number of geothermal resources relative to population centers and transmission grid is a difficult hurdle to overcome. In Alaska, developing strategies for using geothermal resources is likely to prove as difficult as actually developing the resources, yet given the potential, this development is well worth the effort.
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