The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that five projects will receive up to $28 million to promote the advancement of the next generation of geothermal energy technologies. Selected by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office these projects align with the goals of the 2019 GeoVision study, which outlines a path to unlock the full potential of geothermal power as a clean, reliable, and affordable energy source for American homes and businesses.

“Geothermal energy is an important part of the Trump Administration’s diverse, all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “These projects will help bring the massive promise of clean and reliable, geothermal energy, for both power production and direct use, closer to reality for all Americans.”

Wells of Opportunity

Three projects, totaling up to $10.4 million, were selected under the Geothermal Wells of Opportunity Funding Opportunity Announcement, and support research and development (R&D) that complements the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) initiative. The FORGE initiative aims to enable cutting-edge research, drilling, and technology testing to identify a replicable, commercial pathway to enhanced geothermal systems. The projects selected are:

  • Cyrq Energy, Inc. (Salt Lake City, UT) will use a combination of several innovative stimulation technologies to improve the permeability of well 16-29 at the Patua Geothermal Field in Churchill County, NV in order to boost electricity generation at the power plant.
  • Ormat Nevada, Inc. (Reno, NV) will sequentially stimulate three wells at three separate operating geothermal fields in Nevada in order to conduct a comparative analysis of similar stimulations in different geologic environments and increase production:
    • Don A. Campbell well 68-1RD in Mineral County, NV
    • Jersey Valley well 14-34 in Pershing County, NV
    • Tungsten Mountain well 24-22 in Churchill County, NV
  • University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK) will lead a diverse team to stimulate multiple zones of interest in well 73-18RD at the Coso Geothermal Field in Inyo County, CA using innovative packers to achieve zonal isolation to improve production.

R&D conducted through these selections will improve the tools, technologies, and methodologies used to explore, identify, access, create, and manage enhanced geothermal systems resources, which are critical to reducing development costs and risks.

Hydrothermal and Low-Temperature

Two projects totaling up to $17.5 million were selected under the FY 2020 Geothermal Technologies Office Hydrothermal and Low Temperature Multi-Topic Funding Opportunity for the R&D of innovative subsurface geothermal technologies. The project selected under the first topic area will help drive down costs and risks associated with the discovery of hidden geothermal systems. The project selected under the second topic area will enhance energy system resilience through geothermal district heating and cooling applications, in support of the DOE Energy Storage Grand Challenge. The projects selected are:

Topic Area 1: Exploration RD&D: Hidden Geothermal Systems in the Basin and Range

University of Nevada at Reno (Reno, NV) seeks to accelerate discoveries of new, commercially-viable hidden geothermal systems in the Great Basin region (GBR) in the Western United States by combining play fairway analysis, machine learning, advanced geostatistics, and other analytical techniques into a comprehensive exploration toolkit.

Topic Area 2: Bi-directional Energy Storage Using Low Temperature Geothermal Applications

Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) seeks to drill an exploratory borehole to measure, test, and verify that Earth Source Heat with innovative district heat pumps could be technically and economically feasible on their campus, and demonstrate the scalability of this technology to other facilities.

As identified in the GeoVision study, improved technologies in these areas could increase geothermal power generation nearly 26-fold by 2050, reaching 60 gigawatts of always-on, flexible electricity-generation capacity, and enhancing heating and cooling solutions for American residential and commercial consumers through direct-use and geothermal heat pump technologies.