Did You Know… Renewable Energy Corridors Can Be the Future of Energy Production?

In the Escalante desert of southwestern Utah, near the town of Milford, there are four different types of renewable energy: wind, solar, biogas, and geothermal. They’re all being used to produce energy at the same time. The co-location and concentration of such diverse renewable resources in the North Milford Valley is unique, and it serves as a model of what other renewable energy corridors might be able to achieve around the country.

Beaver County is sunnier  than 88% of the counties in the United States, so it’s no wonder that solar farms have been built there to capture the power of sunshine! The solar panels cover three square miles in total and produce approximately 620,000 megawatt hours (mwh) of electricity yearly. As for wind generation, the 30-mile long North Milford Valley funnels the prevailing south to north air flow. To harvest this energy, Utah’s largest wind farm, made up of 155 wind turbines, also generates approximately 620,000 mwh. But wind and solar generation are relative newcomers compared to geothermal energy, which has been running since 1984 and providing about 250,000 mwh of electricity yearly. Geothermal resources require special geological circumstances, and these were identified in the vicinity of Roosevelt Hot Springs in the 1970s. The Blundell power plant is the sole geothermal producer in the Renewable Energy Corridor, but work is underway to test a new type of geothermal resource, Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), nearby at Utah FORGE.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is created from the breakdown of animal waste. In fact, 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally are from livestock! By capturing the methane emissions from the decomposition of manure, instead of letting it be released directly into the atmosphere, it can instead be turned into a renewable form of natural gas. In this corridor there are 26 hog farms, making enough biogas to heat 3,000 homes. A natural gas pipeline running through the area provides a convenient way to transport this biogas out of the rural location and into more urban areas, where it can be used for heating.

What potential exists across the country to create similar renewable corridors? There are two equally crucial elements needed: the resources, and the infrastructure. For example, there are large swaths of land in the plains of North Dakota with great wind energy resources. But there are no transmission lines to run the electricity generated from the sparsely populated areas where the demand is low, to large population centers where it can be used. To harvest that wind, hundreds of miles of transmission lines would have to be built.

These renewable corridors have many benefits over single resource areas. The Renewable Energy Corridor in Beaver County supplies both electricity and natural gas, which is used to heat homes and cook food. Additionally, wind power can generate power at night, and solar can generate power when there is no wind. Whereas wind and solar are both dependent on weather conditions, geothermal can operate all day, every day. There may even be the option in the future to use geothermal as a battery for the intermittent renewables, or waste heat from the geothermal power plant could be used to promote biogas production in winter when the cold temperatures slow it down.

If there’s more solar and wind energy being generated than is being used at a given time, that excess energy could be stored as heat in the ground, to be extracted later. This balances out the supply and demand sides of the grid.

Factors to consider:

  • Resource (sun, wind, geothermal)
  • Space (physical space, distance from people (fumes, odor, noise, etc.))
  • Site access (set-up and maintenance)
  • Grid/pipeline connection
  • Environment (won’t impact groundwater, endangered species, cause erosion, etc.)



















A MW hour is the actual electricity generated. Same as the kw hour on your electricity bill. The total capacity of the turbine, rated in MW, assumes 100% performance. The turbine doesn’t spin all the time.