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Geothermal Production Managers

History

Since early times hot springs and underground reservoirs, which are geothermal energy products, have been used as sources of heat. More than 10,000 years ago North American Paleo-Indians used hot springs for warmth and bathing, and they used the minerals in the springs as a source of healing. The ancient Romans used geothermal water to treat skin and eye diseases. People in the town of Pompeii used geothermal energy to heat buildings. Other cultures, including ancient Japanese and Chinese, also recognized geothermal energy's restorative and practical uses.

In the 1300s, French villages began using hot springs for home heating, and the first "health spa" at a natural hot springs was established in Belgium. In the 1800s, hot springs spas became popular in the United States. By the late 1800s, scientists and engineers were studying the practical uses of geothermal energy for producing electricity. The Geothermal Energy Association (a now-defunct professional association) reported that "major district-wide heating and individual use geothermal energy projects have been in continuous, successful long-term operation at Boise, Idaho, since 1892 … and the first large-scale geothermal electricity plant opened at Larderello, Italy, in 1904."

The U.S. Department of Energy reports the following geothermal energy firsts in the United States:

  • 1921: The first geothermal power plant goes into operation but does not produce enough energy to remain viable.
  • 1930: The first commercial greenhouse use of geothermal energy is undertaken in Boise, Idaho.
  • 1948: The first commercial building use of a groundwater heat pump occurs in Portland, Oregon.
  • 1960: The first large-scale geothermal electricity-generating plant begins operations at The Geysers in Northern California.

Twenty years after the plant came online at The Geysers, several western U.S. states had  geothermal power plants. By 1985, U.S. geothermal power plants produced about 2,000 megawatts (MWs) of electricity. Today, there are approximately 2.5 GWs of geothermal power online in the United States. Plants in the U.S. produce about 28 percent of all geothermal-generated electricity in the world. 

The United States produces more geothermal energy than any other country, yet geothermal energy fueled only 0.4 percent of all elecricity generation in the United States in 2018, according to the Energy Information Administration. Nearly 17 percent of U.S. electricity is generated by renewable energy sources, including hydropower, wind, biomass,  and solar energy according to the Energy Information Administration.

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