Geothermal energy can help US states reach green goals

Posted on: March 31st, 2014
Geothermal energy can help US states to reach green goals

Geothermal energy can help US states to reach green goals

Almost every state in the U.S. has launched sustainability initiatives in recent years. As decision-makers become educated about the benefits of clean energy, many are looking to green technologies to protect the earth’s precious resources while also reducing costs. From geothermal energy to solar power, these solutions have allowed the U.S. to gradually shrink it’s environmental footprint. However, some states are making more progress in this regard than others.

Making progress
According to, Hawaii is one state that is lagging a bit in terms of utilizing renewable sources for generating electricity – the U.S. Department of Energy has ranked this state No. 48. However, Hawaiians also don’t consume as much electricity as the rest of the nation. Why? It’s likely because their bills are much higher. In fact, electricity rates are three times the national average to power their homes. This is because the island depends heavily on oil for electricity production, and is forced to import most of its energy. In 2008, Hawaii launched an ambitious plan to address these issues. The main goal put in place was to generate 70 percent of the state’s electricity from clean sources by 2030.

How are they doing so far? reported that according to the Energy Information Administration, Hawaii has replaced 8 percent of its oil use with renewable sources. Considering the fact that coal and oil made up more than 90 percent of the state’s annual electricity production in 2008, that’s a notable stride. While coal production has stayed at 13 to 14 percent over the last 10 years, petroleum generation has dropped from 81 percent of electricity in 2002 to 72 percent in 2013.

Meanwhile, Hawaii has also been leveraging more renewable energy sources, which now make up more than 12 percent of the overall electricity. This demonstrates an 8 percent increase from 2002, when only 4 percent of the overall electricity generation came from clean sources. Additionally, for six consecutive years, utility-scale electric generation has been dropping. attributed this to new policies and incentives that are encouraging homeowners and businesses to make use of geothermal and biomass energy. Other alternative sources used by the state include solar and wind power. reported that wind accounted for 36 percent of Hawaii’s utility-scale renewable generation in 2012, and that percentage increased to 42 percent within just one year. Solar generation, meanwhile, increased fivefold from 2012 to 2013. Still, it only makes up less than 2 percent of the total renewable generation in the state.

Room for improvement
While California has made some strides with its green efforts, there are many opportunities for progress. According to, the Geothermal Energy Association recently released a report outlining how the majority of California’s geothermal energy resources still have not been leveraged. The GEA asserted that despite the upfront capital investment, geothermal power is a plentiful and cost-effective option, which could help the state meet its climate goals with carbon reductions. Yet the association’s research found that nearly half of California’s geothermal resources are untapped, with many more resources still undiscovered. Only 4.4 percent of the total system power generated in 2012 came from geothermal sources, and the GEA maintains that geothermal energy can produce some of the lowest life-cycle emissions of any technologies and renewables.

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