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Geothermal Energy

Assessing Geothermal Clean Energy Resources Advancement and Economic Development Opportunity in Elko Nevada

Company Name: Elko Heat Company
Program Office: Geothermal
Location: Elko, NV
Website: N/A
Email: N/A
Award Amount: $200,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory / National Energy Technology Laboratory


Geothermal energy is a renewable resource for heat and electricity, allowing businesses and communities to tap into the power of heat trapped in underground rocks and bodies of water. The Elko Heat Company (EHC) was formed in 1979 to provide geothermal-derived heat from the subsurface to Elko, Nevada's central business district and a nearby industrial park. Just an hour's drive northeast of the city lies Wells, Nevada, which shares many geologic features with its neighbor, but has yet to tap into the same type of geothermal potential.

This project would use existing and new data from the region to develop a robust understanding of geothermal resources around Wells. This updated direct use resource assessment will help the city evaluate the viability of establishing its own district heating system, including a geothermal production well and piping infrastructure to heat existing downtown buildings.


The Elko Heat Company and the City of Wells will work with scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Energy Technology Laboratory to utilize geologic data collected since the early 1980s, including data collected following the 2008 Wells earthquake, to develop an integrated conceptual model of the region's geothermal resources using spatial and subsurface data science analytical tools developed by NETL. By using LBNL's multicomponent geothermometer GeoT, the project will be able to estimate deep reservoir temperatures in different areas. Additional field studies and surveys could reveal if higher temperature springs located to the west of the city are directly related to warm wells located in the city itself.

This work aims to produce a resource model of the area that will reveal the most productive sites for drilling targets and direct use applications.


Switching to geothermal creates long-term cost savings compared to reliance on commodity fuels such as natural gas, oil and coal. By reducing heating costs, the city of Wells hopes to attract new businesses to its revitalized downtown.

Geothermal energy is emissions- and pollution-free. Currently, Nevada's electricity grid relies largely on natural gas, so displacing electricity use with geothermal could lead to significant emissions reductions.

Geothermal energy is entirely domestic and contributes to a diverse electricity supply. Additionally, geothermal power plants and heat pumps can provide relatively constant sources of energy, acting as stabilizing baseload energy sources, in contrast to intermittent power from other sources of renewable energy, such as wind and solar.

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