Energy Department Seeking Input on Geothermal Energy Projects

April 20, 2022 by Dan McCue
Energy Department Seeking Input on Geothermal Energy Projects
(A geothermal power generation plant in Humboldt County, Nevada. Photo by NREL Photographer Dennis Schroeder)

WASHINGTON — The Energy Department is seeking input from the energy industry, energy experts and the general public to support a proposed $84 billion in new investments in enhanced geothermal energy demonstration projects.

The pilot energy system projects were included in President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law.

The legislation authorizes the DOE to support four competitively selected pilot projects that demonstrate geothermal energy systems in different types of geology. 

According to the department, the demonstration projects will provide valuable information about EGS in the field and help spur further growth of geothermal energy — which has the potential to be a critical source of abundant, reliable, zero-carbon energy and an opportunity for fossil communities to maintain economic stability by transitioning to producing clean energy. 

Department officials believe the demonstration projects could help advance the DOE’s goals to deploy more than 60 GW of geothermal, electricity-generating capacity by 2050 — resulting in clean, reliable power for 129 million American homes and businesses, and contributing to the president’s goal for a net-zero emissions economy. 

“The U.S. has incredible, untapped geothermal potential beneath our very feet, which can be harnessed to meet our energy demands with a round-the-clock, clean renewable resource available across the country,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in a written statement. 

“Investments within President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law are allowing us to incentivize access to that resource nationwide, while helping fossil communities and workers leverage existing infrastructure and skills to seamlessly transition to producing clean energy,” she said.

Administration officials contend enhanced geothermal systems projects can significantly increase geothermal energy deployment throughout the United States in both the electric and non-electric sectors. 

They further argue that substantial and sustained investment, including in technology development and demonstrations, is vital to ensure that the country can utilize the untapped potential of enhanced geothermal systems. 

Accessing geothermal resources for energy production requires fluid to flow through openings in rocks, thus facilitating recovery of heat energy that is usually produced through hot water or steam. 

Enhanced geothermal systems projects use man-made reservoirs to enable heat recovery for energy generation in areas where geothermal resources exist but cannot be accessed using conventional methods.  

The department’s request for information solicits feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies and other stakeholders on demonstration project attributes and outcomes that will most likely lead to successful EGS deployment in the future.

DOE is also seeking suggestions for the possible structure of the demonstration projects, including how its investments can be most impactful in promoting workforce development and environmental and energy justice through the EGS Pilot Demonstrations Program.  

Responses to the requests for information must be submitted via email to [email protected] by 5 p.m. Eastern time on May 13, 2022. View the RFI in EERE Exchange for more information.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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