The following analysis was sent to me by someone who shall remain unnamed, lest he or she lose his or her job. The take-home message:

As an energy source, geothermal shows a great deal more promise than nuclear. Yet nuclear is being lavished with government largesse while geothermal goes almost entirely ignored. All sources are cited.


"I would add that a tremendous amount of thought has gone into the requested level of funding and what can be achieved with it, particularly given these tight budgetary times. Now, more than ever, this nation cannot afford to waste taxpayers’ dollars on programs that are not well-conceived or are unlikely to be effective …"

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

"I’d like to see tangible results from these projects in my lifetime."

— Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, age 68.

New Projects Status:

Nuclear energy: 18 projects under some stage of development (Source: Nuclear Energy Institute [NEI])

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Geothermal energy: 61 projects under some stage of development (Source: Geothermal Energy Association [GEA])

States Affected by New Development:

Nuclear: 12: Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Illinois, Texas, New York, North Carolina, and Idaho. (Source: NEI)

Geothermal: 12: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. (Source: GEA)

Future Potential (from comparable sources):

Nuclear: 23,000MW – 62,000MW by 2020 (NEI Testimony to Congress, Marvin Fertel, Senior VP, February 3, 2005, US Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources)

Geothermal: 30,725MW – 100,000MW (GEA Testimony before Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee, and estimate from NREL Geothermal Resource Estimates for the United States (PDF), Technical Report NREL/TP-840-40665, November 2006)

DOE Requested Program Funding (FY 08):

Nuclear: $875 million (PDF)

Geothermal: $0 (PDF)

Types of DOE Support Provided Nuclear Geothermal
Market and Infrastructure Support: Yes No
Financial Support/Loan Guarantees Yes No
Licensing Support Yes No
Risk Insurance Support Yes No
Advanced Technology Development Yes No
International Market Support Yes No
Waste Disposal Yes No

PTC Provided:

Nuclear: Full credit amount (1.8 cents/kwhr) for next 6,000 MW on-line before December 31, 2020.

Geothermal: Full credit amount (1.8 cents/kwhr) for facilities on-line by December 31, 2008.

States Producing Basic Energy Resources:

Nuclear fuels (uranium production): 8 states (EIA)

Geothermal energy (power and heat): 25 states (Oregon Institute of Technology Geo-heat Center, and GEA Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee Statement, April 28, 2006)

Type of Power Provided:

Nuclear: baseload electricity

Geothermal: baseload electricity

Current Size of Industry (total sales based on EIA 2005 date for production and average retail sales price):

Nuclear power sales in 2005: $64 billion

Geothermal power sales in 2005: $1.1 billion

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.