Full Title:  Barriers and enablers to geothermal district heating system development in the United States
Author(s): H. Thorsteinsson, J. Tester
Publisher(s):  Energy Policy, Elsevier
Publication Date: 11/2009
Identifier(s):  Energy Policy 38 (2010) 803–813
Language: English
Length: 11 pages, PDF

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Description (excerpt):

According to the US Energy Information Administration, space and hot water heating represented about 20% of total US energy demand in 2006. Given that most of this demand is met by burning natural gas, propane, and fuel oil, an enormous opportunity exists for directly utilizing indigenous geothermal energy as a cleaner, nearly emissions-free renewable alternative. Although the US is rich in geothermal energy resources, they have been frequently undervalued in America’s portfolio of options as a means of offsetting fossil fuel emissions while providing a local, reliable energy source for communities.

Currently, there are only 21 operating GDHS in the US with a capacity of about 100 MW thermal. Interviews with current US district heating operators were used to collect data on and analyze the development of these systems. This article presents the current structure of the US regulatory and market environment for GDHS along with a comparative study of district heating in Iceland where geothermal energy is extensively utilized. It goes on to review the barriers and enablers to utilizing
geothermal district heating systems (GDHS) in the US for space and hot water heating and provides policy recommendations on how to advance this energy sector in the US.