Energy Dept. Launches Initiative to Bring Down the Cost of Geothermal Power

September 12, 2022 by Dan McCue
Energy Dept. Launches Initiative to Bring Down the Cost of Geothermal Power
Geothermal energy in New Mexico. (Bureau of Land Management photo)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy has launched a new initiative aimed at dramatically bringing down the cost of geothermal power.

This past week the department set a goal of making “enhanced” geothermal systems a widespread renewable energy option by cutting its cost 90% — down to $45 per megawatt hour — by 2035.

According to department officials, more than five terawatts of heat resources — enough to meet the electricity needs of the entire world — exist in the United States.

Moreover, they say, capturing even a small fraction of this could affordably power over 40 million American homes. 


With its new Geothermal Shot,™ the Energy Department is seeking to unlock the Earth’s nearly inexhaustible heat resources to provide reliable, clean power to American communities and expand opportunities for a robust domestic geothermal industry. 

Enhanced Geothermal Systems can also enable technologies for widespread deployment of geothermal heating and cooling, which will further allow buildings and whole communities to decarbonize. 

“The United States has a vast, geothermal energy resource lying right beneath our feet, and this program will make it economical to bring that power to American households and businesses,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in a written statement. 


“DOE’s Enhanced Geothermal Shot will move geothermal technology from research and development to cost-effective commercial adoption, helping energy communities and workers transition to producing clean energy for the future,” she said.

Recent investments by the department include $44 million to help spur EGS innovations for DOE’s Frontier Observatory for Geothermal Energy Research field laboratory and up to $165 million to transfer best practices from oil and gas to advance both EGS and conventional geothermal. 

President Biden’s recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also supports work to advance EGS with $84 million in funding to support four pilot EGS demonstration projects that will provide valuable information about EGS in different geographies and geologies.

EGS is a young technology with the potential to become a powerhouse of U.S. economic growth, especially for rural communities. Most geothermal jobs are inherently local and relate to well drilling and construction, which must be performed by a domestic workforce. 

The geothermal industry and workforce are also similar to oil and gas, presenting an opportunity to transition skilled workers, as well as entire communities, and equipment from fossil fuels to clean energy.


The Enhanced Geothermal Shot is the fourth shot announced in DOE’s Energy Earthshots™ Initiative to help break down the biggest remaining scientific and technical barriers to tackling the climate crisis, department officials said.

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

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