Energy industry group launches in Texas to promote Geothermal energy

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Energy industry group launches in Texas to promote Geothermal energy

The sun sets behind power lines above the plains north of Amarillo, Texas, March 14, 2017, U.S. March 14, 2017. Jan 12 Reuters - A trade group seeking to promote geothermal energy in Texas will launch on Thursday with backing from large oil and utility firms trying to transform their businesses.

The Texas Geothermal Energy Alliance TxGEA was formed as many fossil fuel giants and startup companies look to transition to low-carbon energy from oil and gas. The group includes Halliburton HAL.N Repsol REP.MC Chevron Corp CVX.N Baker Hughes CenterPoint Energy CNP.N and GeothermEx, a Schlumberger company.

Barry Smitherman, the former chairman of the state's public utility and energy regulatory boards, was the head of the group's formation. Texas is the largest oil- and gas-producing state in the world.

The interest of decision makers and thought leaders is piqued by the fact that everyone is interested in a resource that's clean, renewable and dispatchable, according to Smitherman. He said that the group's focus will be education and advocacy.

Geothermal technology employs much of the same drilling technologies used in the oil and gas sector, although the wells are designed differently. One of the drilling firms, Nabors Industries, is already eying geothermal as a business opportunity.

Smitherman said that service companies see this as another way to use their technology, workforce and skill set.

There are many geothermal projects currently under way in the United States, which could lead to greater scale for an industry that is not yet able to compete with cheaper oil and gas.

Geothermal accounts account for less than 1% of global utility-scale electricity generation because it is geologically limited, according to TxGEA member Sage Geosystems.

The United States has currently installed 3.5 gigawatts of geothermal capacity.