Geothermal energy projects in the US receive $46m boost

Enhanced geothermal systems are different from conventional geothermal resources that occur naturally in the US and are geographically limited due to the need for underground heat and fluids

The Big Zero report

A total of 17 projects in the US are receiving up to a total of $46 million (£33m) in funding for domestic, carbon-free geothermal energy, with the potential to supply power to homes across the country.

They have been selected by the Department of Energy’s Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) Initiative, which started with the selection of five projects in 2015, with the Utah FORGE site and team announced in 2018.

Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) are different from conventional geothermal resources that occur naturally in the US and are geographically limited due to the need for underground heat and fluids.

EGS are manmade geothermal reservoirs and can be engineered in most parts of the country, potentially expanding geothermal energy production and transforming the domestic energy portfolio.

The Utah FORGE site is a laboratory where scientists and researchers learn how to engineer manmade EGS systems and is the first dedicated field site of its kind.

Kathleen Hogan, Acting Under Secretary for Science and Energy said: “There is enormous untapped potential for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) to provide clean and reliable electricity to power tens of millions of homes across the country.

“These investments in EGS research support President Biden’s mission to take on the climate crisis by pushing the frontiers of science and engineering and creating jobs in cutting-edge clean energy fields.”

Winners of the funding will gain a fundamental understanding of the key mechanisms controlling EGS success, develop, test and improve new technologies in an idea EGS environment and rapidly disseminate technical data and communicate lessons learned and best practices to the public.

Congressman Frank Lucas, Ranking Member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee added: “America leads the world in installed geothermal capacity but it accounts for just 2% of our renewable energy portfolio. Developing advanced geothermal energy technology requires strong investment in basic and early-stage research, like the awards announced today.

“Our country has significant hydrothermal and geothermal energy resources and if harnessed correctly, these resources have the capability to provide secure baseload power and energy storage for Americans across the country.”

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