Energy Resources

Introduction

Ponnequin Wind Farm with Longs Peak in the background

Ponnequin Wind Farm with Longs Peak in the background.

Colorado is rich in fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), renewable energy resources (biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind), and uranium. In 2010, the fossil fuels industry alone generated $10.24 billion in revenues.

Oil well in Washington County, CO.

Oil well in Washington County.

Resources Presentation

Colorado is affected by global demand for minerals and energy. The demands on the globe’s natural resources by China and India are unprecedented. This impacts prices and production of Colorado resources.

The talk “The Global Scramble for Natural Resources — Its Impact on Colorado” by the former Director of the Colorado Geological Survey, Dr. Vince Matthews, has been given to more than 35,000 Colorado citizens. The talk may be viewed online as a video, courtesy of the University of Colorado-Denver Business School. To download the updated PowerPoint on the Global Scramble for Natural Resources and Its Impact on Colorado, click here. To download a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

Colorado Quick Facts

  • Ten of the nation’s 100 largest natural gas fields and three of its 100 largest oil fields are found in Colorado.
  • Colorado is responsible for more than one-fourth of all coal bed methane produced in the United States. Coal bed methane output accounts for about one-half of Colorado’s natural gas production.
  • The Rockies Express Pipeline, which began service in May 2008, helps move Colorado’s rapidly increasing natural gas production to markets in the Midwest.
  • Colorado’s oil shale deposits hold an estimated 1 trillion barrels of oil — nearly as much oil as the entire world’s proven oil reserves. However, oil production from those deposits remains speculative.
  • A proposed biomass plant in Vail would use thousands of trees that were recently killed by pine beetles as its feedstock.

The CGS studies various aspects of energy in Colorado, gathers data, and prepares the section on the mineral and energy sectors of Colorado’s economy for the Business Economic Opportunity Forum BEOF annual forecast issued by the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. We also publish an annual report on the mineral and energy industry in Colorado.

Other Resources

U.S. Energy Information Agency’s energy data on Colorado.

About Colorado’s Niobrara oil boom.

A breakdown of what the U.S. energy sources are, and where they are used.

CGS Studies in Energy

The CGS is involved in studies to help understand the geology of energy resources in Colorado. For instance one of the very first scientific studies of oil shale was published by CGS in 1921. For CGS publications on energy, click here.

During the 1970s and 80s, CGS published 13 reports on the Coal Bed Methane (CBM) potential in Colorado. Today CBM accounts for 28% of the natural gas production in Colorado and this percentage is down from prior years due to the decline in natural gas prices. Production has been fairly level since the late 1990s.

Also during the 1970s and 80s, CGS published 33 reports on various aspects of geothermal energy in Colorado. Although this did not lead immediately to the development of geothermal energy, it serves as a sound base of knowledge with the current round of exploration for generation of electricity from geothermal resources in the state.

CGS renewed its efforts in geothermal in 2005 and works closely with the Governor’s Energy Office. Two new state-wide maps were issued: Geothermal Gradient Map of Colorado and Geothermal Heat Flow.

Open pit coal mining in northwestern Colorado near Craig

Above left: Open pit coal mining in northwestern Colorado near Craig. For scale, note the tiny white pickup truck in the bottom of the pit.

Colorado's 8.6 MW solar PV plant in the San Luis Valley near Mosca, CO.

Colorado’s 8.6 MW solar PV plant in the San Luis Valley near Mosca, CO.

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