August 6, 2012
DALLAS (SMU) – The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) presented SMU’s renowned Geothermal Energy Program with a Special Recognition Award on Tuesday, August 7, in Sacramento, Calif.
The SMU program was recognized for its 42-year track record of “supplying vital information on geothermal energy and training the next generation of geothermal leaders,” according to the GEA.
SMU geothermal researchers recently completed a sophisticated, national mapping project backed by Google.org that makes it possible to access reliable geothermal data (heat flow and temperature-at-depth information) culled from oil and gas development all over the country.
Directed by David Blackwell, SMU’s Hamilton professor of Geothermal Studies, and Maria Richards, director of SMU’s Geothermal Laboratory, the mapping project makes it clear that vast geothermal resources reachable through current technology could replace and multiply the levels of energy currently produced in the United States – mostly by coal-fired power plants.
The awards program, GEA Honors, recognizes companies and individuals who continue to make notable advancements and achievements for geothermal energy. Winners in four categories – technological advancement, economic development, environmental stewardship and special recognition – will be announced at an awards dinner at the second annual GEA National Geothermal Summit.
“After the success of last year’s GEA Honors, we are proud to recognize those companies and individuals that are leading the way towards a successful future for geothermal energy production,” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. “It is through the hard work and diligence of these companies and individuals that geothermal continues to meet the increasing energy needs of our country and provide a clean alternative to coal and other non-renewable energy sources.”
Even before SMU researchers completed their latest national map, an assessment they produced for the Texas State Energy Conservation Office confirmed the existence of a vast, geothermal zone with enough heat to supply Texas with clean, renewable, affordable electricity for hundreds of years.
SMU's Geothermal Lab also regularly hosts a conference aimed at convincing oil and gas producers to use the technology and resources they already have to develop geothermal production. Many of the same technologies that oil and gas companies pioneered for retrieving natural gas from shale can be used to create steam from the hot “dry” rocks found underneath that shale.
Since it's inception, the lab has has been awarded more than $9 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Texas State Energy Office, and others, to research this source of clean energy. As author of The Geothermal Map of North America, it is a recognized authority in:
- Identification, assessment and mapping of geothermal resources
- Development, expansion and maintenance of thermal databases
- Mapping of geophysical data
- Modeling of hydrothermal systems, oil and gas fields, and unconventional geothermal resources
- On-site borehole temperature-depth logging
- Measurement and analysis of rock sample thermal conductivity
The Geothermal Energy Association is a trade association comprised of U.S. companies who support the expanded use of geothermal energy and are developing geothermal resources worldwide for electrical power generation and direct-heat uses. GEA advocates for public policies that will promote the development and utilization of geothermal Resources, provides a forum for the industry to discuss issues and problems, encourages research and development to improve geothermal technologies, presents industry views to governmental organizations, provides assistance for the export of geothermal goods and services, compiles statistical data about the geothermal industry, and conducts education and outreach projects.