Fact Sheet




NCEL Point of Contact

Sidra Aghababian
Climate and Energy Coordinator



Geothermal energy refers to the heat derived from the Earth. Geothermal resources are hot water reservoirs beneath the Earth’s surface that exist naturally or are created by human activities. Through drilling wells, these resources can be utilized for various purposes such as generating electricity, direct applications, and providing heating and cooling. Although conventional hydrothermal resources such as natural reservoirs of steam or hot water, are primarily available in the western states, geothermal energy can be tapped almost anywhere with geothermal heat pumps and direct-use applications.

Key Points

Key Point 1

Geothermal power plants produce consistent electricity, running 24 hours a day, seven days a week making them a great resource to address baseload energy demand. (U.S. Department of Energy)

Key Point 2

Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source, and modern geothermal power plants emit no greenhouse gasses. (U.S. Department of Energy)

Key Point 3

By 2050, geothermal energy could represent 8.5% of total U.S. electricity generation while being accountable for only 1.1% of power-sector water withdrawals with the majority of this growth could be supported using non-freshwater sources. (U.S. Department of Energy)

Key Point 4

The U.S. has tapped less than 0.7% of geothermal electricity resources. (University of Michigan)

Policy Options

 ‘**’ indicates bipartisan sponsorship

  • **Colorado SB 285 (enacted 2023): Mandates the commission to conduct studies on the state’s geothermal resource, evaluate the regulatory structure for geothermal resources, assess the regulation and permitting of underground hydrogen
  • **Colorado HB 1381 (enacted 2022): Creates a grant program for homeowners, private organizations, and local governments to research, develop, and invest in geothermal processes
  • **Colorado SB 118 (enacted 2022): Provides basic consumer education and guidance for geothermal energy systems and creates business models for geothermal projects in the state
  • **Maryland H.B.1007 (enacted 2021): Altering the renewable energy portfolio standard in certain years to require a certain percentage of energy from Tier 1 renewable sources each year to be derived from certain geothermal heating and cooling systems
  • **New York S.9422 (enacted 2022): Establishes the “Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act” to promote the development of thermal energy networks throughout the state and to provide jobs to transitioning utility workers


NCEL Resources

Online Resources

Department of Energy

Geothermal FAQs

Go to resource
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Geothermal Technologies Program: Direct Use

Go to resource
University of Michigan

Geothermal Fact Sheet

Go to resource
Western Governors’ Association

The Heat Beneath Our Feet Initiative

Go to resource

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