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Geothermal Prospector

Start exploring U.S. geothermal resources with an easy-to-use map by selecting data layers that are NGDS compatible.

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Geothermal Prospector

The Geothermal Prospector mapping tool provides an excellent data resource for visual exploration of geothermal resources using the tools and datasets required to produce and disseminate both exploration gap analysis and Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) planning and analysis.

In 2010, NREL developed Geothermal Prospector, a web-based geographic information system (GIS) application, to support resource assessment and data exploration for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office. The online tool provides the information needed to allow users to determine locations that are favorable to geothermal energy development. This was in response to the recommendation by the Geothermal Technologies Program Blue Ribbon Panel Recommendations for DOE to focus efforts on accelerating near-term geothermal growth through exploration.

A graphic depicting a user-interface and provides callouts for some of the available options.

Prototype interface for the Temporal, Spatial, and Multivariable Visualization

This application utilizes the OpenCarto framework and the architecture behind OpenCarto is a web-based GIS framework, which currently supports over 20 different applications in all areas of renewable energy. These applications share data, code, and distribute framework maintenance responsibilities. This framework leverages both internal and external data services, which follow Open Geospatial Consortium standards for both visualization and querying of data. The focus on interoperability allows the application to both access data services from external data providers as well as serve data to other applications that utilize standards-based data services, such as WMS and WFS, to support interoperability. The data services associated with the Geothermal Prospector is accessible by a wide variety of users and applications.

The OpenCarto framework is currently being updated to support a more flexible user interface and capabilities to include dynamic vector mapping and embeddable maps. The analysis capabilities available within the Geothermal Prospector interface are also directly available as web services in Through this application both external and internal users have the ability to explore a potential geothermal location to examine a variety of information such as the available resource, the land ownership, proximity to transmission lines, available water resources, resource potential, and existing and planned geothermal power plants.

All data created by NREL and served through the Geothermal Prospector is compatible with the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS), which aims to increase the likelihood of success in geothermal development by providing comprehensive data from a wide variety of sources and using standard data provision formats, including the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Feature, Map, and Coverage Services (WFS, WMS, WCS).

An example of how a user might use the Geothermal Prospector is outlined here:

  1. Investigate the locations of all current hydrothermal plants and zoom in on one of specific interest.
  2. Use satellite-view to actually see the footprint of the power plant and its surrounding well pads.
  3. View the layer for all restrictions to see what surrounding lands are restricted from development.
  4. Use the surface ownership layer and the BLM Lease (case type) data layer to see land ownership, if there are any existing leases in the area, and if those leases give clues about the level of exploration that has occurred.
  5. Apply the USGS undiscovered hydrothermal favorability map to see if there are any promising areas and display all wells that are in databases on Geothermal Prospector to see what sort of depth and temperature data is associated with them and to determine if there are hot spots or wells of opportunity.
  6. Also, the user can turn on the Deep EGS potential layer for further investigation.
  7. The user can save this analysis and share it with partners, investors, researchers, etc.; potentially add external data sources of interest; and see further what exploration data has been done in the area.

Contact: Jonathan Duckworth