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DOE Announces Geothermal Research Initiative

October 2, 2009 - 1:58pm


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces a new collaboration between the Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) to demonstrate low temperature geothermal electrical power generation systems using oilfield fluids produced at the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center (RMOTC).

The objective of this multi-year collaboration is to demonstrate the versatility, reliability, and widespread deployment capabilities of low temperature geothermal electricity production systems that work off of the co-produced water from oilfield operations. These systems turn otherwise discarded water into an energy resource. The electricity produced is utilized to power field production equipment, which offsets purchased electricity; other applications are being explored.

Under this collaboration, EERE is providing funding for the purchase of a low temperature geothermal electricity producing unit from Ormat Technologies, Inc. RMOTC will showcase its capability to serve as an optimal testing facility for geothermal technologies, while enhancing knowledge sharing between the geothermal and petroleum industries. With a producing oilfield and long standing expertise with fossil energy, this project provides a unique opportunity for FE to contribute its experience to emerging renewable energy fields.

Ultimately the GTO hopes to collect operational and performance data for various climates and system configurations. This information will be freely available, educating the industry and public about the high potential of geothermal renewable energy from co-produced water. With an estimated 10 barrels of hot water produced along with each barrel of oil in the United States, there is significant resource potential for this technology.

This joint venture supports the integration of traditional and emerging energy technologies in a way that serves to generate both discussion and action around new strategies for energy generation. Collaboration between diverse programs of FE and EERE is good for DOE and provides enormous benefit by developing the nation’s energy supply. This project will bridge a gap between two disciplines that can both benefit from synergistic activities. Low temperature geothermal sources and co-produced fluids hold significant promise for electrical generation in the near term.

Source: EERE Progress Alert