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Geothermal energy workshop hosted by the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources

Workshop organizer Shari Kelley with Paul Schwering from Sandia National Laboratories. Dr. Schwering gave a presentation about regional-scale electromagnetic geophysical studies in Nevada. The sign travels with him everywhere he goes.
(click for a larger version)
2024 Photo by Trace Kliphuis

May 2, 2024

A workshop designed to accelerate geothermal development in New Mexico was held on Thursday, April 18, 2024, at the Fidel Center on the campus of New Mexico Tech. This workshop, which complemented one held in September 2023, focused on the next steps in advancing geothermal development in New Mexico.

Approximately 70 representatives from national laboratories, universities, state agencies, the geothermal and utility industries, and the New Mexico legislature attended in person. An additional 35 people, mainly from the national and international geothermal industry, attended remotely. The workshop included presentations describing the geothermal bills passed in New Mexico’s 2024 legislative session, ongoing research at national labs and universities, thermal energy storage assessments by the U.S. Geological Survey, thermal energy networks in Massachusetts, and possibilities for geothermal development on U.S. military bases. Representatives from Xcel Energy and El Paso Electric provided insightful discussions about the steps needed to incorporate geothermal into the electric transmission system. Sovereign Energy offered valuable guidance for engaging Tribes and Pueblos.

In addition to the presentations, three panels considered a range of topics, including geothermal regulations, access to geothermal data, the challenges of connecting to the grid, and the advantages of developing industry research consortiums. Highlights of the GEODE program and the new U.S. Department of Energy report “Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Next-Generation Geothermal Power” were also discussed.

The workshop ended with discussions of the need for regional-scale geophysical studies similar to those underway in Nevada; the need to create an inclusive coordinating body to encourage communication and education among communities, state agencies, and the geothermal industry; and the need to develop a one-stop shop for geothermal data, permitting requirements, and other important information for developers. Workforce training was determined to be a key to success. A more complete report about these and other topics will be available by the end of May.

One of the conference attendees, Dr. Ken Wisian, from the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources’ sister agency, was the keynote speaker at the New Mexico Geological Society annual spring meeting, which was held on Friday, April 19. The focus of this meeting—the energy transition in New Mexico—provided a good complement to the geothermal workshop. In addition, students and Bureau of Geology staff made presentations on a range of geological topics. Talk abstracts are available for interested readers.