Thermal energy from the earth can be utilized for heating, cooling, or power generation. Geothermal power plants are capable of providing renewable, baseload power with low emissions. Direct use of geothermal resources on the other hand, can include aquaculture, greenhouse heating, and district heating. Finally, heat pumps utilize the steady temperature of the earth to provide year-round heating and cooling for buildings, lowering electricity and heating fuel costs.

Types of Geothermal

  • Power Production

    Geothermal electricity production requires high temperature reservoirs (>300°F for flash systems and >250°F binary systems) capable of delivering a sufficient volume of hot water and steam to turn steam turbines and generate electricity. Geothermal power applications have been around in the United States since the early 1970s. Unfortunately, because geothermal power plants require a unique combination of geologic factors, commercial power applications are limited. However, where it exists, geothermal power can fully or partially replace fossil energy sources to provide reliable, baseload electricity.

  • Direct Use

    Geothermal resources with inadequate flow or insufficient temperature for electricity production, can be utilized in direct use applications. Economically viable applications may include, heated pools and spas, space heating, aquaculture, greenhouse heating, agricultural drying, and district heating. Often, multiple direct use applications are used simultaneously, such as heating, greenhouse, and aquaculture, and using the “waste heat” in a pool or spa. Depending on the quality of the resource, needs of the reservation, and potential markets, geothermal direct use should strongly be considered by Tribes that are in close proximately to existing geothermal resources.

What You Need

For geothermal projects to be viable for Tribes, the following characteristics and circumstances must generally be present:

  • An adequate source of geothermal energy in the subsurface. Traditionally, a hydrothermal resource.
  • Access to electric market and transmission for electric production and sale.
  • For direct use, a large heat load, or multiple heat loads.

Services for Geothermal

The Division of Energy and Mineral Development provides project assistance to Tribes and individuals to develop geothermal on their trust land. Learn more about how we can help below.

Additional Information

Additional Resources

Contact Us

Branch of Renewable and Distributed Generation
Office of Trust Services, Division of Energy and Mineral Development, 13922 Denver West Parkway, Ste. 200
Lakewood, CO 80401-3142
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. MDT, Monday-Friday