Geothermal energy taps the heat from beneath the earth's surface to generate electricity. Existing reservoirs of steam or hot water are brought to the surface to power electrical generators throughout the Western United States. In the future, the intense heat deep below the surface will be accessed for electricity generation by the advanced engineering of reservoirs all across the country.
In addition to electricity production, lower temperature geothermal resources are used for direct heating applications and the constant temperature that exists at shallow depths can be used as an energy-efficient method of heating and cooling, called ground-source heat pumps. (98)
NREL works in partnership with industry, academia, and other research laboratories to research, develop, and validate innovative and cost-competitive technologies to advance the use of geothermal energy as a clean, renewable, domestic power source for the United States.