Coal king West Virginia could go big-time into geothermal, if it wanted

Researchers at South Methodist University in Dallas are reporting in a new study that West Virginia, which as America’s second-largest coal producer relies almost exclusively on coal for its own electricity generation, could kick its coal addiction — if it wanted to go clean. “The temperatures are high enough to make this the most attractive area for Geothermal Energy development in the eastern 1/3 of the country and the heat in place is sufficient to support large scale development of Enhanced Geothermal Systems,” according to the study. This “thermal anomaly,” it says, “opens the possibility of geothermal energy production near the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard.”

Sadly, the state known for destroying its local environment through mountaintop removal is unlikely to ditch coal. But wouldn’t it be nice if, at the very least, the state supported a project that could at least demonstrated its geothermal potential? Same argument applies to Alberta, which has yet to launch a meaningful program to explore its vast geothermal resource. It’s more than happy squeezing bitumen out of sand and pushing its own coal resource.