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Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
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Geothermal Energy Construction: Resource Requirements and Impact Sources

Most land-disturbing activities occur during the construction phase during which the project site is prepared for production.

After the exploration and drilling phase, the project site is prepared for production. The construction phase involves the construction of the geothermal field(s), infrastructure, power plants, and transmission lines.

The following factors could contribute to adverse environmental impacts during the construction phase of project development.

Construction Phase — Requirements and Impact Sources

  • Acreage Requirements — The construction phase would require from 50 to 350 acres, depending on the geometry of the geothermal systems and the anticipated size of the power development. Some of this disturbed land would be reclaimed once construction activities end.
  • Emissions — Emissions would include dust and exhaust from combustion engines (associated with construction worker vehicle traffic). As wells are completed, well venting could result in emissions of hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, mercury, arsenic, and boron (if present in the geothermal resource).
  • Waste Generation — Wastes would be limited to those generated by construction crews. Sanitary waste would be generated by on-site workforce.
  • Water Needs — Water would be used for controlling fugitive dust, making concrete, and supplying potable water for construction crew. Depending on the demand, water required during construction would be either trucked to the site or obtained from an on-site or near-site source (e.g., on-site well or municipal water supply).
  • Workforce — The workforce required during construction would vary significantly over the construction period, but a few hundred workers would be on-site at any given time.
  • Time — Construction of a large geothermal development would normally require about two to four years. A pipeline or transmission line could take several months or more to construct, depending primarily on its length.
  • Utility Requirements — Electrical power needs would be met by use of portable generators.