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Full steam ahead for geothermal

Geothermal Energy Association Executive Director Karl Gawell recently announced the findings of new industry reports that show the geothermal industry will soon add thousands of jobs as dozens of new clean geothermal power plants come online or enter advanced stages of development.

The GEA report—“Green Jobs through Geothermal Energy”—found that the federal stimulus, tax incentives and strong state renewable standards continue to fuel the growth in geothermal power and job creation. The full benefits of the stimulus to the geothermal industry have yet to be realized. About 95 percent of the projects receiving ARRA funding are either less than 50 percent complete or have yet to break ground.

“Recovery Act funding is going to make a huge difference over the next year to push projects to completion and create more jobs. The majority of the ARRA investment will really start to pay dividends for the economy in 2011,” said Gawell.

GEA anticipates that 2011 will be a high-point of geothermal activity in the U.S. under the stimulus legislation. Approximately 500 to 700 Megawatts of power projects will enter their final construction phase in 2011, adding 3,000 construction jobs, primarily in Nevada and California.

ARRA also appears to have drawn a diverse group into the geothermal sector. Almost half of the Geothermal Technologies Program awards from the stimulus went to non-industry entities such as colleges and universities; cities, counties, and other state and local institutions; tribal entities; and the Department of Energy’s National Labs.

As more geothermal industry jobs are being created, a number of colleges and universities across the country are emerging with undergraduate, graduate, and certification programs related to geothermal. GEA also compiled the “U.S. Geothermal Education and Training Guide” that details 22 undergraduate and graduate programs at U.S. colleges and universities. Additionally, 31 schools have research opportunities in geothermal studies available to students.

“To keep creating jobs in the geothermal industry, we must keep getting talented individuals coming into the industry. The programs at these leading schools will develop the next generation of geothermal professionals,” Gawell said.

For more information, visit http://www.geo-energy.org/.


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