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Geothermal energy is used mostly for electric power generation with a current worldwide installed capacity of about 1,000 Mw. This is equivalent to one nuclear power plant . The only geothermal area in the world completely developed by private enterprise is at The Geysers in northern California, where it has proved to be a viable, mechanically sound, and economic resource, competing with alternative forms of power generation, such as oil, gas, nuclear, and hydro in the Pacific Gas and Electric system. The Geysers field produced 300 Mw and is estimated to have a potential production in excess of 1,000 Mw.
The National Petroleum Council estimates that by 1985 about 15,000 Mw of geothermal power can be developed in the western United States. With improved exploration, drilling, and utilization technology, and modification of certain institutional barriers, it has been estimated that geothermal power may be of the order of 75,000 Mw by the year 2000.
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