Policy Overview and Options for Maximizing the Role of Policy in Geothermal Electricity Development

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Geothermal electricity production capacity has grown over time because of multiple factors, including its renewable, baseload, and domestic attributes; volatile and high prices for competing technologies; and policy intervention. Overarching federal policies, namely the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), provided certainty to project investors in the 1980s, leading to a boom in geothermal development. In addition to market expansion through PURPA, research and development policies provided an investment of public dollars toward developing technologies and reducing costs over time to increase the market competitiveness of geothermal electricity. Together, these efforts are cited as the primary policy drivers for the currently installed capacity. Informing policy decisions depends on the combined impacts of policies at the federal and state level on geothermal development. Identifying high-impact suites of policies for different contexts, and the government levels best equipped to implement them, would provide a wealth of information to both policy makers and project developers.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages42
StatePublished - 2009

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A2-46653


  • enhanced geothermal systems
  • federal funding
  • federal policy
  • feed-in tariffs
  • financial incentives
  • FIT
  • geothermal electricity development
  • geothermal energy
  • investment tax credit (ITC)
  • state funding
  • state policy


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