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A Geothermal “Boom” in Texas?

Texas could potentially produce enough geothermal energy to decarbonize its entire power grid “and foster a new energy industry in the state,” according to a recent report cited by E&E News’ ENERGYWIRE (subscription).

What’s going on: A report from the International Energy Agency and several state universities “says Texas’ abundant resource of underground heat and its oil and gas history make it ideal for a geothermal growth spurt that could rival the hydraulic fracturing boom.”

Why it’s important: “Tapping geothermal potential in Texas could also solve the problems of the state’s troubled electricity grid by offering a renewable baseload power source, researchers say.”

  • “The state’s growth of wind and solar resources has led to concerns of power shortages when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining.”
  • “The state’s Public Utility Commission and main grid operator are pushing a market reform proposal that would promote dispatchable power sources—like natural gas and nuclear plants—to ensure periods of high demand can be met.”

Only in Texas: While harnessing geothermal power is “a technically challenging venture” because it requires boring deep into the Earth’s surface, Texas is primed to overcome this challenge because of its experience with drilling technology, the report found.

  • The temperatures under some of the state’s largest cities “are above 200 degrees Celsius at a 6.5-kilometer depth, which oil and gas companies can access”—meaning developers could potentially build power sources near high-demand areas. 
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