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Geothermal Impact Analysis

NREL's geothermal impact analysis and research focuses on potential geothermal growth scenarios, jobs and economic impacts, clean energy manufacturing, marketing and policy analysis, and life cycle assessments.

Photo of NREL researchers look at colored map of the United States in 3D visualization room.


NREL's geothermal systems analysis team increases the understanding of current and future interactions and roles of energy policies, markets, resources, technology systems and components, environmental impacts, and infrastructure related to geothermal resources. We:

  • Perform resource analysis
  • Develop techno-economic models
  • Quantify environmental impacts through sustainability and technology life-cycle assessments
  • Assess technology supply chains
  • Incorporate research and development portfolio uncertainty and risk
  • Assess market, financial, and policy impacts
  • Incorporates geospatial implications.

The NREL geothermal team combines these core capabilities into integrated assessments of energy plans, programs, and portfolios for geothermal technologies to inform decision-makers and to advance geothermal use.

GeoVision Study

For the Energy Department's Geothermal Technologies Office, NREL is leading the GeoVision Study , which explores potential geothermal growth scenarios across multiple market sectors. Learn more about the GeoVision Study.

Jobs and Economic Impacts

NREL performs in-depth analysis on the economic impacts of constructing and operating geothermal power plants. Using the Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) model, we can estimate project costs and direct economic impacts for both hydrothermal and Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) power generation projects based on exploration and drilling activities, power plant construction, and ongoing operations. Learn more about the JEDI Geothermal Model.

Life Cycle Assessments

NREL is a leader in the field of life cycle assessment (LCA) of energy technologies, both renewable and conventional. LCA is a standardized technique that tracks all material, energy, and pollutant flows of a system—from raw material extraction, manufacturing, transport, and construction to operation and end-of-life disposal. LCA can help determine environmental burdens from "cradle to grave" and facilitate comparisons of energy technologies. For technology-specific results of review and analysis of published LCA estimates, see the Geothermal Results.

Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis

Through the Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center (CEMAC), NREL provides credible, objective analysis of the manufacturing of selected high-value or unique binary power plant components for the geothermal power industry. The outcomes of our analyses provides decision-makers with the data and insights needed to inform investment strategies, policy, and other decisions informing economic growth from binary power systems.

For early findings from our recent study on the manufacturing value chain of geothermal power plant turbines, read the CEMAC blog.

Market and Policy Analysis

NREL investigates, researches, and analyzes the latest information available to help reduce confusion and provide credible, objective answers to decision makers, such as utility regulators, policymakers, and regional developers interested in investments and policies that support new, geothermal projects. The NREL geothermal team is also conducting feed-in tariff analysis and adding a geothermal aspect to current renewable energy finance tracking initiatives to identify trends, barriers, and preferences in geothermal project financing.

Dynamic Maps and GIS Data

NREL leads the effort in geothermal potential mapping, power generation, and other information essential to industry for the development of energy. Resource potential maps for the United States show locations of identified hydrothermal sites and favorability of deep enhanced geothermal system. Power generation maps show current and planned capacity by state.

Learn more about NREL's:

Illustration of a map showing geothermal resource potential in the United States.


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