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Bureau of Geology hosts workshop to advance geothermal development in New Mexico

A panel discussion on the geothermal development opportunities and barriers in New Mexico. Seated (left to right): Raven Goswick of Aka Energy Group, LLC, representing the Southern Ute Tribe in southern Utah; Bruce Kohrn, TLS Geothermics (Toulouse, France); Tom McCrory, DeltaT2V, LLC (Los Alamos, NM); Hermann Lebit, Alma Energy (Houston, TX); Baskar Stargard Murugappan, Shell/SocalGas (Los Angeles, CA); Anine Pedersen, Geothermal Rising (Houston, TX); and Michelle Henrie, Cyrq Energy (Santa Fe, NM). Jim Witcher (Las Cruces, NM), of Witcher and Associates, is at the podium discussing water scarcity and desalination issues in New Mexico.
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Shari Kelley
Geothermal development workshop participants.
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Tom Solomon
A conversation between Sunalei Stewart, Deputy Commissioner of the State Land office, and Luke Frash, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
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Tom Solomon

October 2, 2023

A workshop designed to accelerate geothermal development in New Mexico was held on Thursday, September 21, 2023, at the Deju University House on the campus of New Mexico Tech. Forty representatives from national laboratories, universities, the geothermal industry, and the New Mexico legislature attended in person. An additional 25 people, mostly from the national and international geothermal industry, attended via Zoom. The workshop's goals included encouraging conversations among members of this diverse group and identifying barriers to and opportunities for geothermal development in New Mexico.

Several recurring themes emerged during discussions of barriers:

  • Reduce delays in permitting, especially at the federal level.
  • Create documentation to establish that high upfront costs translate to long-term benefits.
  • Educate the public about geothermal possibilities and dispel misinformation.
  • Establish a one-stop shop for geothermal data, permitting requirements, and other important information for developers.
  • Engage utilities in designing transmission infrastructure for geothermal power plants in remote areas.

Similarly, several themes were identified as opportunities that we can use to our advantage:

  • An oil and gas workforce that can easily transfer their skills to the geothermal industry.
  • A legislature that is interested in supporting geothermal development.
  • The presence of elevated heat flow and geothermal resources in the Rio Grande rift.
  • Geothermal expertise at the national labs and universities in New Mexico.
  • A climate across much of the state that is appropriate for deploying ground-source heat pumps for heating and cooling of buildings.

The workshop ended with a discussion of the next steps in the legislative process during the 2024 session in New Mexico, and planning to create a Geothermal Rising-sponsored Regional Interest Group that will be responsible for proposing solutions to the barriers described above. A more complete report about the workshop will be available by the end of October.