With the experience and dedication of its diverse, international membership bolstering a 40-year track record, the Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) is the world’s premier geothermal association. The GRC serves as a focal point for continuing professional development for its members through its outreach, information transfer and education services. GRC Goals The GRC is a tax-exempt, non-profit, educational association 501(c)(3). Formed in 1970, the GRC was incorporated in the state of Washington in 1972, and in California in 1981. With members in 30 plus countries, the GRC actively seeks to expand its role as a primary professional educational association for the international geothermal community.
The Geothermal Resources Council
With the experience and dedication of its diverse, international membership and a 40-year plus track record, the Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) has built a solid reputation as the world’s premier geothermal association. The GRC serves as a focal point for continuing professional development for its members through its outreach, information transfer and education services.
The GRC is a tax-exempt, non-profit, educational association 501(c)(3). Formed in 1970, the GRC was incorporated in the state of Washington in 1972, and in California in 1981. With members in 40 plus countries, the GRC actively seeks to expand its role as a primary professional educational association for the international geothermal community. The goals of the GRC are to:
- Encourage worldwide development of geothermal resources through the collection and timely distribution of data and technological information.
- Promote research, exploration and development of geothermal energy in ways compatible with the environment.
- Serve as a public forum for the world geothermal community, providing transfer of objective and unbiased information on the nature of geothermal resources and techniques of geothermal development.
- Cooperate with national and international academic institutions, industry and government agencies to encourage economically and environmentally sound development and utilization of geothermal resources.
GRC membership is open to any person, organization, agency or company. Membership advantages include access to GRC functions, specifically its Annual Meeting and educational programs; a subscription to the GRC Bulletin; listing in the GRC Membership Roster and Registry of Geothermal Services & Equipment; companion membership in the International Geothermal Association; and the opportunity to stand for election to the GRC Board of Directors. Membership opportunities include:
- Individual: Regular, Student and Benefactor. Students with an interest in geothermal resources and development are encouraged to join the GRC.
- Corporate: Company/Institutional, Supporting, Sustaining and Patron. GRC Corporate Members include major developers of geothermal energy in the United States and around the world.
- Retired: Over 65 years of age and retired. Retired GRC Members include many geothermal industry pioneers.
Governance and Funding
The GRC is governed by a 20-member Board of Directors, elected by the general membership to 2-year terms. To provide continuity, half of the Board is elected every year. All GRC members are eligible for election to the Board of Directors.
GRC operating funds are derived from its Annual Meeting; corporate contributions; government grants and contracts; workshops; membership dues and contributions; and publication sales and advertising.
The GRC Board of Directors created the Geothermal Resources Council Foundation in 1986. Contributions to the Foundation help ensure future geothermal development through GRC education and information transfer efforts. The Foundation consists of three specific funds augmented by tax-deductible contributions and interest on principal:
- Education Fund: Provides scholarships, speaker travel expenses and miscellaneous costs associated with educational activities.
- Pioneer Fund: Provides financing (if needed) for GRC operations and capital expenses.
- Publication Fund: Provides loans for production costs of selected GRC publications.
The GRC develops educational functions on a variety of topics that are critical to geothermal development. The GRC convenes special meetings, workshops, and conferences on a broad range of topics pertaining to geothermal exploration, development and utilization. Topics include (but are not limited to) business management, direct (low-temperature) uses, drilling, economics, environmental aspects, financing, geochemistry, geology, geophysics, heat pumps, operations and maintenance, power plants, reservoir engineering, and taxation. In addition, the GRC periodically schedules a basic, introductory course about geothermal resources and development. On a contract basis, the GRC can provide comprehensive professional meeting services to fulfill industry and agency needs.
GRC Annual Meetings are the most important yearly event in the geothermal world, providing an international forum where members, participants and guests learn about the latest advances in geothermal technologies through technical and poster sessions. The companion (U.S.) Geothermal Energy Association Trade Show offers the opportunity to learn about the latest in geothermal equipment and services while forming important business contacts. A number of optional events during GRC Annual Meetings, including field trips and workshops, provide meaningful and enjoyable social interaction that promote friendships and collaboration within the international geothermal community. A convenient searchable CD Transactions offers most technical papers presented at GRC Annual Meetings, which are convened on a rotating basis at spacious facilities in Reno, Nevada, and in San Diego, California—with alternate cities chosen by the Board of Directors to enhance domestic and international relations.
The GRC publishes a periodical Bulletin (6 issues per year), which features articles on technical topics and geothermal development issues, as well as commentaries and news briefs. The Bulletin is provided to GRC members and is available to non-members by subscription. In addition, the GRC publishes an annual Membership Roster and Registry of Geothermal Services & Equipment, a unique publication that provides business, consulting and research contacts throughout the international geothermal community.
The GRC encourages its members and the geothermal industry to advertise in the Bulletin and the Membership Roster and Registry of Geothermal Services & Equipment. Advertisements in both publications reach not only our members, but representatives of the worldwide geothermal industry, government agencies and research institutions.
With financial assistance from private and/or government institutions, the GRC has published a number of Special Reports about various aspects of geothermal resources and development. As noted above, the GRC Transactions contain most technical papers presented at GRC Annual Meetings.
The GRC maintains the most comprehensive geothermal technical library in the world at its offices in Davis, California, and on its website at: www.geothermal.org Through keyword search, the GRC Online Library offers title and author citations for more than 30,000 papers, articles, books and other geothermal energy publications, with new listings are added to the database on a regular basis. For its members, the GRC’s online Geothermal Energy Research Library offers thousands of GRC-copyrighted technical papers from its Transactions, Special Reports and Bulletins as downloadable PDF files.
- Assessment of Moderate- and High-Temperature Geothermal Resources of the United States (PDF)(USGS National Geothermal Resources—Fact Sheet)
- Geothermal Energy (PDF)(International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III – Special Report on Renewable Energy)
- Geothermal Energy, Clean Sustainable Energy for the Benefit of Humanity and the Environment (PDF) (Energy and Geoscience Institute - University of Utah)
- Geothermal Energy�Clean Power From the Earth�s Heat (PDF)(USGS)
- The Future of Geothermal Energy (DOE - EERE)
Geothermal Energy is heat (thermal) derived from the earth (geo). It is the thermal energy contained in the rock and fluid (that fills the fractures and pores within the rock) in the earth's crust.
Calculations show that the earth, originating from a completely molten state, would have cooled and become completely solid many thousands of years ago without an energy input in addition to that of the sun. It is believed that the ultimate source of geothermal energy is radioactive decay occurring deep within the earth (Burkland, 1973).
In most areas, this heat reaches the surface in a very diffuse state. However, due to a variety of geological processes, some areas, including substantial portions of many USA western states, are underlain by relatively shallow geothermal resources.
- Geothermal Map of North America (SMU)
- Geothermal Resource Potential Map (NREL)
- Current and Planned USA Power Generation Capacity by State (NREL)
The uses to which these resources are applied are also influenced by temperature. The highest temperature resources are generally used only for electric power generation. Current U.S. geothermal electric power generation totals approximately 3,087 MW or about the same as five large nuclear power plants.
Geothermal power plants
Geothermal power plants use hydrothermal resources that have two common ingredients: water (hydro) and heat (thermal). Geothermal plants require high temperature (300°F to 700°F) hydrothermal resources that may come from either dry steam wells or hot water wells. We can use these resources by drilling wells into the Earth and piping the steam or hot water to the surface. Geothermal wells are typically one to two miles deep.
There are three basic types of geothermal power plants:
- Dry steam plants use steam piped directly from a geothermal reservoir to turn the generator turbines. The first geothermal power plant was built in 1904 in Tuscany, Italy, where natural steam erupted from the Earth.
- Flash steam plants take high-pressure hot water from deep inside the Earth and convert it to steam to drive the generator turbines. When the steam cools, it condenses to water and is injected back into the ground to be used over and over again. Most geothermal power plants are flash steam plants.
- Binary cycle power plants transfer the heat from geothermal hot water to another liquid. The heat causes the second liquid to turn to steam which is used to drive a generator turbine.
The current production of geothermal energy from all uses places third among renewables, following hydroelectricity and biomass, and ahead of solar and wind. Despite these impressive statistics, the current level of geothermal use pales in comparison to its potential. The key to wider geothermal use is greater public awareness and technical support. (Information from the US DOE)
- Electricity Generation (DOE)
Uses for low and moderate temperature resources can be divided into two categories: direct use and geothermal heat pumps.
Direct use, as the name implies, involves using the heat in the water directly (without a heat pump or power plant) for such things as heating of buildings, industrial processes, greenhouses, aquaculture (fish farming) and resorts. Direct use projects generally use resource temperatures between 38°C (100°F) to 149°C (300°F). Current U.S. installed capacity of direct use systems totals 470 MW or enough to heat 40,000 average-sized houses.
Geothermal Heat Pumps use the earth or groundwater as a heat source in winter and a heat sink in summer. Using resource temperatures of 4°C (40°F) to 38°C (100°F), the heat pump, a device which moves heat from one place to another, transfers heat from the soil to the house in winter and from the house to the soil in summer. Accurate data is not available on the current number of these systems; however, the rate of installation is thought to be between 10,000 and 40,000 per year. (Information furnished by the Geo-Heat Center)