DOE Earmarks $12 Million for Geothermal Technologies

(Credit: Pixabay)

by | Apr 30, 2021

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(Credit: Pixabay)

The US Department of Energy today announced up to $12 million for technologies that can make geothermal systems more efficient for clean, renewable energy production. This funding will help scientists and engineers unlock the full potential of geothermal power to help tackle the climate crisis, and achieve the Biden Administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are man-made reservoirs created by injecting fluid into “hot rock,” which is heated by the natural warmth of the Earth’s core. The fluid re-opens pre-existing fractures, allowing it to circulate through the hot rock, and bring the heated water to the surface. That hot water becomes steam that spins a turbine, creating clean, renewable energy.

The “Innovative Methods to Control Hydraulic Properties of Enhanced Geothermal Systems” funding opportunity will support the research, development, demonstration, and deployment of technologies and techniques to control the fluid flow in EGS reservoirs, enhancing the connectivity of pre-existing fracture networks and optimizing them for heat mining. This ability to customize reservoirs will increase their efficiency and longevity—driving down EGS costs, reducing the risk of development, and accelerating the path towards widespread commercialization, the DOE notes.

The 2019 GeoVision study by DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) concluded that with technology improvements like those funded by today’s announcement, geothermal power generation could increase 26-fold, deploying 60 gigawatts-electric (GWe) of clean energy by 2050. Despite that vast potential, there are only 3.7 GWe of geothermal energy currently installed in the United States. GTO is using its research and development portfolio to advance technologies and projects that can rapidly increase that number, while supporting thousands of good-paying jobs for American workers—including those in the oil and gas industries that already have matching skills and expertise.

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