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Department of Energy Announces up to $70 Million to Advance Technology and Reduce Cost of Geothermal Energy

June 8, 2011 - 2:59pm

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In support of President Obama's goal of generating 80 % of the country's electricity from clean energy sources by 2035, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the availability of up to $70 million in new funding over three years for technology advancements in geothermal energy to accelerate development of this promising clean energy resource. Innovations in exploration technologies to locate geothermal energy resources and improvements in resource characterization, drilling, and reservoir engineering techniques will enable clean energy from geothermal sources to be a key contributor to the nation's renewable energy supply. By targeting funding to research and develop these innovative technologies, the Department aims to reduce the upfront cost of geothermal energy systems, expand their use, and enable the United States to tap the huge potential of this renewable energy resource.

"By investing in geothermal technologies, we are also investing in our nation's energy future and creating opportunities for energy innovation in the United States," said Secretary Chu. "The United States remains a global leader in geothermal energy development, and we can leverage our experience to develop more energy here at home while increasing our competitiveness in the global clean energy economy."

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), new geothermal resources could add up to 30 gigawatts of renewable energy to the U.S. energy supply, and enhanced geothermal systems – through the development of engineered reservoirs and other methods – have the potential for an even greater impact. This competitive funding opportunity will support the Department's goals of lowering the cost and financial risk associated with confirming and characterizing geothermal resources and overcoming key technical challenges to reservoir creation and sustainability in enhanced geothermal systems. The ultimate goal is to reduce the cost of new geothermal resources and enhanced geothermal systems so they are competitive with conventional sources of electricity.

The funding will support the Department's continued partnerships with industry, national laboratories, and academia to advance several key research areas:

  • Advanced Exploratory Drilling Technologies – The projects will focus on reducing the cost of exploratory drilling
  • Advanced Well Completion Technologies – These projects will focus on lowering the cost of completing geothermal wells
  • Tools to Isolate Fracture Zones within a Well – These projects will work to control injection and production of water in geothermal systems
  • Observation Tools and Data Collection System for Reservoir Stimulation – These projects will help to monitor and optimize reservoir creation
  • Geophysical Exploration Technologies – These projects will include remote sensing, improved data processing and advanced seismic surveying technologies to better locate hidden resources
  • Geochemistry and Rock-Fluid Interactions – These projects will focus on better characterizing geothermal resources and predicting reservoir temperatures.

A description of the solicitation, eligibility requirements, and application instructions can be found on the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

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. Visit the Geothermal Technologies Program website for more information about the Geothermal Technologies Program, current funding opportunities, and previously announced awards.

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