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What is Geothermal Energy & How Can Landowners Monetize it?

Geothermal energy is a form of renewable energy derived from the heat stored beneath the Earth’s surface. We can tap into the heat produced by the Earth’s core. This heat can be used to generate electricity, heat, and cool buildings.

Geothermal energy can be harnessed to produce electricity through a process called geothermal power generation. This is the process that landowners utilize to generate another revenue stream.

As a landowner, you need to assess the geothermal potential of your land. Determine if it is suitable for geothermal development. If so, you can monetize geothermal energy.

Determining if Your Land is Suitable for Geothermal Energy

Landowners can determine if their land is suitable for geothermal energy by researching areas in the United States that are known for geothermal activity:

  • Active volcanoes

  • Geothermal hotspots

  • Hot springs

  • Tectonic plate boundaries

There are geothermal experts that specialize in resource assessment and geothermal exploration. These experts will analyze geological data, temperature gradients, subsurface characteristics, and other factors to determine if your land has a viable geothermal electricity potential. With landowners that are near or have hot springs on their property, the extracted hot water or steam is directed to a geothermal power plant. This is where it goes through a process of energy conversion. There are different types of geothermal power plants:

  • Dry steam power plants: If the resource provides high-pressure steam directly, it is used to drive a turbine connected to a generator. The steam's pressure is reduced as it passes through the turbine, causing the turbine blades to rotate and generate electricity.

  • Flash steam power plants: In cases where the resource produces water at a high temperature but not necessarily in the form of steam, the hot water is passed through a separator. The pressure drop causes the water to "flash" into steam, which then drives the turbine.

  • Binary cycle power plants: When the geothermal resource has lower temperatures, binary cycle power plants are used. The hot water from the resource heats a secondary fluid with a lower boiling point (such as isobutane or pentane), which vaporizes and drives a turbine connected to a generator.

Utilizing Geothermal Energy for Electricity Potential

Geothermal power plants produce electricity that can be fed into the electrical grid. This can provide a reliable and continuous source of clean energy. This power generation can contribute to baseload power that operates continuously and provides a stable power supply without significant fluctuations. Geothermal energy can also be used directly for heating and cooling purposes. In regions with suitable geothermal resources, geothermal heat pumps can be installed in buildings for space heating during winter and cooling these buildings during summer. This application is particularly effective for residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, as it offers energy efficient and environmentally friendly temperature control. Geothermal energy can be utilized in district heating systems, where hot water or steam from a geothermal source is distributed through a network of pipes to multiple buildings or communities for space heating and domestic hot water. District heating provides an energy-efficient solution for large-scale heating needs, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Geothermal energy can be employed in various industrial applications that require heat, such as food processing, agriculture, greenhouse operations, and manufacturing. It can provide a cost-effective and sustainable source of heat for processes that would otherwise rely on fossil fuels.

How Can Landowners Get Started With Geothermal Energy

For landowners that have land with the potential for geothermal energy, the first thing they should consider is the legal requirements and permits needed for development. This may include securing surface rights, drilling permits, and complying with environmental regulations. Consult with local authorities and geothermal experts to understand the specific requirements. Then, depending on your preference, you can lease or sell the rights to the geothermal resource on your land to a developer. Leasing allows you to retain ownership while earning royalties or lease payments based on the energy produced. Selling the rights transfers ownership to the developer, who will then assume responsibility for the project's development and operation. Landowners should engage with geothermal developers or energy companies interested in harnessing geothermal energy. Seek partnerships or agreements that provide you with financial benefits, such as upfront payments, ongoing royalties, or a share in the profits generated from energy production. Geothermal development can be complex and requires expertise in various disciplines, including geology, engineering, and project management. It's crucial to work with professionals who specialize in geothermal energy to ensure a successful and economically viable project. LandGate does not have any geothermal data and does not typically deal with geothermal leasing. LandGate does however provide a free property report that can provide you with a breakdown of other potential leasing payment estimates including solar, wind, carbon and more! If you're interested in our free property report please get started by clicking the link below.


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