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DOE Seeks to Invest up to $90 Million in Advanced Geothermal Energy Technology and Research

June 18, 2008 - 1:29pm

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WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for up to $90 million over four years to advance the research, development and demonstration of next-generation geothermal energy technology which will harness the earth's interior heat extracted from hot water or rocks.  Currently, DOE has up to $10.5 million available for immediate award under this FOA, with the remainder subject to change and to Congressional appropriations.  The FOA addresses the need for additional technical understanding of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) to accelerate the technology to a state of commercial readiness.

"Geothermal energy is a clean, reliable, scalable, renewable energy source and these geothermal projects will help the U.S. tap domestic heat sources that were previously out of reach," Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner said. "Increasing the use of traditional hydrothermal and geothermal base load resources is an important component of the Administration's efforts to diversify our nation's energy sources in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security."

EGS are systems of engineered reservoirs created by drilling deep wells into hot rock, fracturing the rock, and circulating a fluid through the wells to extract heat. According to a recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) entitled, The Future of Geothermal Energy, EGS represents a large, indigenous resource that, with a reasonable investment in research and development (R&D), could provide the U.S. with 100,000 megawatts of cost-competitive electricity, generating capacity by 2050, or 20 percent of current electricity generation.

While EGS reservoirs have been designed, built, and tested in various locations throughout the world, a number of technical hurdles remain before EGS production facilities will reach commercial production rates and life spans. Through this FOA, DOE will concentrate on issues related to EGS reservoir creation, operation, and management. In the long-term, the work aims to create, sustain, replicate and commercialize EGS technologies, while in the short-term these projects will develop and demonstrate technologies that are useful to both hydrothermal and EGS geothermal projects.

To reach these goals, this FOA will address two topic areas:

Component Technologies R&D: The R&D projects under this topic area will meet the R&D needs identified in DOE's EGS Technology Evaluation Report (2008).  Projects will address aspects of engineered reservoir creation, management, and utilization at high temperatures up to 300°C and depths as great as 10,000 meters.

System Demonstrations: The projects under this topic area will allow testing and validation of stimulation techniques for improving productivity of wells or increasing inter-well connectivity at existing geothermal fields. Use of available or experimental technologies from geothermal, petroleum or other relevant industries will be considered.

DOE anticipates making up to 26 awards through this competitive funding opportunity, which is open to industry and academia.  Funding is available at $10.5 million for fiscal year (FY) 2008.  Subject to annual Congressional appropriations, up to an additional $30 million is expected to be available for awards in FY 2009.  Additional funding up to $49.5 million is expected to be available in FY 2010, subject to change and Congressional appropriations.  A minimum of 20 percent private sector cost share is required for R&D projects and funding for the awards is subject to Congressional appropriations. Recipient cost share requirements for demonstration projects will be up to 50 percent and vary by both the phase of the award and the activities within a particular phase.  Applications for this funding opportunity are due on or before August 12, 2008.

DOE's geothermal technologies program works in partnership with U.S. industry to establish geothermal energy as an economically competitive contributor to the U.S. energy supply.  Learn more information about this FOA on the Geothermal Technologies Program website.

Media contact(s):

Jennifer Scoggins (202) 586-4940

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