WPR News
9:32 am
Mon January 5, 2009

Wyoming has 4.5 million acres for geothermal energy

Laramie, WY – A recent federal study found 4.5 million acres of federal land in Wyoming could be available for geothermal power.

Geothermal energy is generated from heat stored in the earth. It's gaining attention as a greener energy source because it releases essentially no greenhouse gases. The Department of Energy estimates geothermal could meet 10 percent of America's energy needs by mid-century.

But the cost of drilling new geothermal wells is prohibitive. A state energy consultant, Ed Werner, says companies could circumvent some of the costs by developing geothermal power from oil and gas wells: "That's the opportunity Wyoming has because we have extensive oil fields out there that probably are pumping a significant amount of hot water along with the oil."

Werner says at least two groups in Wyoming are already exploring that method. He says Wyoming does not have the high temperatures required to do extensive geothermal projects, but he says the energy source could be developed here on a smaller scale.