US DOE announces $12 Million for enhanced geothermal technology improvement

Sunset over a U.S. Department of Energy geothermal test site (Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada). Photo credit: Dick Benoit

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) last week announced up to $12 million for technologies that can make geothermal systems more efficient for clean, renewable energy production. The funding is designed to help scientists and engineers unlock the full potential of enhanced 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 has the potential to increase their efficiency and longevity—driving down EGS costs, reducing the risk of development, and accelerating the path towards widespread commercialization.

A  2019 study by DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) concluded that with technology improvement 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.

“Enhanced geothermal systems harness the clean, renewable energy that lives right beneath our feet—available at any time, in any weather, in any part of the country,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This new funding will help us tap into its enormous potential to power millions of homes and businesses, reduce carbon emissions, and put thousands to work in greener, good-paying jobs.”

GTO is looking for applications that address the funding opportunity review criteria in full. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. ET on June 15, 2021.

More information about the funding opportunity HERE.

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