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Boise is one of the world's leading geothermal cities

Dec 10, 2009 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Cynthia Sewell The Idaho Statesman

This week world leaders gathering in Copenhagen for the United Nations Climate Change Conference are feeling the geothermal heat that is part of the energy solution for Copenhagen and for cities and countries around the world. In fact, Copenhagen could meet 50 percent of its district heating needs by using its geothermal resources.

With Copenhagen in the spotlight this week as an example of geothermal's potential, the Geothermal Energy Association has identified 10 leading geothermal cities around the globe.

Boise made the list for several reasons: the city's public works department has the largest direct use geothermal system in the U.S.; the city's geothermal system injects 100 percent of the water back into the aquifer; the Idaho State Capitol is among several buildings in the Capitol Mall area that are heated by the system and Boise built its first geothermal heating system in 1892.

Last week the Boise City Council passed three resolutions furthering its commitment to using geothermal resources -- increasing the city's geothermal pumping limit, tying in with the Warm Springs water district to supplement its geothermal supplies and setting a policy for extending city geothermal lines to private property.

These agreements represent an "opportunity to maximize a resource that is about as good as it gets when it comes to climate change. Lowering our carbon footprint and being responsible with resources to the benefit of our citizens," Mayor Dave Bieter said during the Dec. 1 council meeting.

In addition to Boise, other cities the international geothermal association recognized as examples of world leaders in geothermal municipal development include:

--Copenhagen, Denmark: Having set a target of zero carbon emissions by 2025, Copenhagen is a leader in clean energy alternatives and could meet 50 percent of its district heating needs by using its geothermal resources.

--Reykjavik, Iceland: With a high level of geothermal activity and insightful developments by the Icelanders over the years, 87 percent of Iceland's buildings are heated geothermally.

--Reno, Nevada: City and business leaders have been encouraged by the success and remarkable potential of the energy source and are marketing Reno as a geothermal center for industry activities, corporate offices and research facilities.

--Perth, Australia: Perth has declared its intention to enter the geothermal community with a new twist -- as the very first geothermally cooled city with commercial geothermal-powered heating and air-conditioning units.

--Xianyang, China: Recently deemed "China's Official Geothermal City," in the largest emissions-producing nation in the world, Xianyang is helping China achieve the goal they set of 16 percent renewables by 2020 -- up from 7 percent in 2005. Also of note, Beijing famously used geothermal pumps to power the 2008 Olympics.

--Madrid, Spain: Madrid's regional government is on board with six renewable energy projects, one of which is a 8-megawatt geothermal district heating project.

--Masdar City, Abu Dhabi: The city's goal is to function 100 percent on renewable energy; a shining example to the rest of the world. The city plans to obtain half of its power from geothermal resources.

--Klamath Falls, Oregon: Geothermal has been used for space heating since the turn of the century and for a variety of uses including heating homes, schools, businesses, swimming pools, and for snow melt systems for sidewalks and highway. In addition, geothermal provides Oregon Institute of Technology's 11-building campus all of its heating needs.