Utility-Scale Geothermal Production at Military Bases

Utility-Scale Geothermal Production at Military Bases

First published Summer 2011, Crosslink® magazine.


Geothermal energy has a significant role to play at many military bases. The U.S. Navy, for instance, currently produces 250 megawatts from its Coso geothermal field near Ridgecrest, California—enough energy to serve approximately 190,000 homes. Not only does the Navy generate free electricity for the base, it produces over $380 million per year in revenue by selling excess energy to the grid. The U.S. Air Force has an energy plan that calls for it to develop and use renewable and alternative energy to reduce greenhouse gases. The plan states that there are strategic and security implications for generating energy on-site “to enhance operational efficiencies and insulate operations from grid disruptions.” As the Air Force seeks ways to generate renewable energy, Aerospace’s approach to geothermal resource assessments can provide insight and a basis for a land management and drilling strategy. Certain Air Force properties offer excellent potential to generate carbon-free electricity. Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, which is adjacent to the Nevada Test Site, shows evidence of past and present geothermal activity and is on par with established geothermal resource areas. Other high-potential renewable energy Air Force bases include Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base, Oregon; Gowen Field Air National Guard Base, Idaho; and Luke and Davis-Monthan Air Force Bases, Arizona.

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