Geothermal power, where energy is generated by drawing heat from the fluid found beneath the Earth's surface, is quickly becoming an appealing option. A new mapping tool from the U.S. Department of Energy shows the country's vast geothermal heat potential.

As noted by the USDE, a newer type of hydrothermal technology, called enhanced geothermal systems, is becoming more feasible and cost-effective. It works by

injecting cold water deep into the Earth's crust. This water flows through fissures and cracks in the basement rock, heating up considerably along its path. The ensuing steam is then pumped to the surface and, much like conventional hydrothermal, turns a turbine that powers a generator. Water is then recycled back into the Earth's crust. Learn more about EGS with our geothermal infographic.

The geothermal sector has also seen commercial successes in low-temperature and co-produced geothermal resources —below 300°F — to generate electricity. Co-production does this by tapping hot water from oil and gas wells and other material harvesting processes. Sometimes, low-temperature resources can be used for direct heating applications as well, such as district heating and cooling, water purification, and industrial and agricultural processes. These unconventional resources are bringing valuable returns on investment in areas of the country that have not been accessed before.

Looking at the map above, we can see areas with high heat flow potential, the vast majority being in the western regions. The numbers correspond to either existing or planned geothermal plants.

This interactive map lets you zoom in-and-around the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii).

[ Via CleanTechies ]

Related: The World's First Magma-Powered Geothermal Plant