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Geothermal, Offshore Wind Get Boost in U.S.

The geothermal and offshore wind industries received major boosts over the next several years from the U.S. Department of Energy late last week.

The DOE announced $38 million will go to advance geothermal technology and reduce cost. Another $43 million will go to help the U.S. build an offshore wind industry.

Geothermal

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the projects will accelerate the development of promising geothermal energy technologies and help diversify America's sources of renewable energy. Over the next three years, 32 projects in 14 states will develop and test new ways to locate geothermal resources and improve resource characterization, drilling, and reservoir engineering techniques, which will enable geothermal energy sources to help reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels.

Projects will perform feasibility studies before advancing to prototyping and validation, which will be conducted through laboratory-based research and field testing. The selected projects will support the department's goals of lowering the cost and financial risk associated with confirming and characterizing geothermal resources and will help to overcome key technical challenges to the reservoir creation and sustainability of enhanced geothermal systems.

Wind

Chu announced that the money, to be spent over the next five years, will speed technical innovations, lower costs, and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems. The 41 projects across 20 states will advance wind turbine design tools and hardware, improve information about U.S. offshore wind resources, and accelerate the deployment of offshore wind by reducing market barriers such as supply chain development, transmission and infrastructure.

The department said the awards will help the U.S. to compete in the global wind energy manufacturing sector, promote economic development and job creation, and support the development of an emerging industry that will provide clean electricity to American families.

Nineteen offshore wind technology development projects will receive $26.5 million to address technical challenges and provide the foundation for a cost-competitive offshore wind industry in the United States. Awardees, in collaboration with industry, will develop the engineering modeling and analysis tools required to lower overall offshore facility costs and to design the next generation of innovative large-scale turbines optimized for installation and operation in the marine environment. These projects include research and development for innovations in key components such as floating support structures and turbine rotor and control subsystems that may lead to capital cost reductions of up to 50 percent.

Twenty-two market barrier removal projects will receive $16.5 million to research factors limiting the deployment of offshore wind in the nation’s coastal and Great Lakes regions. Topic areas include project design factors such as environmental impact assessment and characterization of the offshore wind resource; subjects related to investment and infrastructure development such as categorization of financial risks and long term manufacturing needs and port requirements; and technical offshore wind topics such as transmission grid integration, and assessment of potential impact on offshore navigation and communication systems.

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