Development of installed geothermal power generation capacity in the U.S.

Development of U.S. Installed Geothermal Power Generation (Nameplate) Capacity in MW 1971-2019 (source: EIA)
Alexander Richter 31 Oct 2019

The United States have a total installed geothermal power generation (nameplate) capacity of 3,676 MW as of today. This is different than data reported by REN 21 and IRENA, as they are applying data for an average winter/ summer capacity, which essentially is not corresponding to other country's data.

Earlier this week we reported on the growth of electricity generation from geothermal energy in the U.S. based on data by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The report states an electric generating summer capacity in the U.S. of 2,455 MW, which is far off from the 3,600+ MW in installed geothermal power generation capacity generally reported for the U.S. by ThinkGeoEnergy and industry.

Reports by REN21 and IRENA are quoting the average summer/ winter capacity numbers (MW), seemingly not taking “nameplate”/ installed capacity into consideration, significantly underreporting capacity. Industry states that the “in-service”-capacity reported by EIA does not correspond to the actual installed and available capacity if operating or not. EIA refers to generator capacity and differentiates to generator nameplate capacity (installed), but not reporting it in overall capacity.

For reference:

For the end of 2018, REN 21 reports an installed geothermal power generation capacity in the United States of around 2,500 MW, while IRENA reports a capacity of 2,541 MW in reference to the REN 21 report.

If one takes nameplate capacity only, in 2018 the U.S. installed geothermal power generation capacity was 3,806 MW and the average for summer and winter net capacity was 2,658 MW, a difference of 1,148 MW. Of those 3,806 MW, three plants with a combined power generation capacity of 130 MW are not in operation today. So the total capacity installed of plants that are operating (even though not fully to their capacity) is 3,676 MW.

As other countries, such as Turkey are reporting similarly, any deviation from those numbers are clouding the overall capacity.

ThinkGeoEnergy will continue report the installed capacity numbers of geothermal power generation facilities that are provided by industry in the U.S.

For now have a look at the development of the geothermal power generation capacity in the U.S. as shown in the chart above.