DOE awards $38 million for geothermal research

The Dept. of Energy has awarded $38 million to advance technology and reduce costs of geothermal energy to companies and universities.


U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $38 million over three years for projects to accelerate the development of promising geothermal energy technologies and help diversify America's sources of clean, renewable energy. Thirty-two innovative projects in 14 states will develop and test new ways to locate geothermal resources and improve resource characterization, drilling, and reservoir engineering techniques, which will enable geothermal energy sources to help reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels. Funded through DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, these advances will play an important role in achieving President Obama's goal of generating 80% of U.S. electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

"The Department of Energy (DOE) is investing in pioneering new technologies that will further develop the nation's geothermal resources, create skilled jobs for American workers, and help diversify our energy portfolio," said Secretary Chu. "The projects announced today will provide opportunities for clean energy innovations that will ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in geothermal energy development and expand the nation's use of this important renewable energy resource."

This significant investment in clean energy development is part of the Department's comprehensive effort to reduce the cost of geothermal energy, making it more competitive with conventional sources of baseload electricity. Projects will perform feasibility studies before advancing to prototyping and validation, which will be conducted through vigorous laboratory-based research and field testing. The selected projects will support the Department's goals of lowering the cost and financial risk associated with confirming and characterizing geothermal resources and will help to overcome key technical challenges to the reservoir creation and sustainability of enhanced geothermal systems.

Selected awardees are as follows:

Hattenburg Dilley & Linnell, LLC (Anchorage, Alaska): up to $330,000 This project will evaluate the chemical, thermal and permeability characteristics of a geothermal reservoir using chemical signatures that are trapped inside minerals to increase exploration drilling success rates.

Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, California): up to $540,000 This project will predict changes in fluid flow through fractures and improve current methods of estimating geothermal reservoir temperatures to enable subsurface imaging and reduce exploration costs.

Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (Livermore, California): up to $890,000 This project will reduce resource exploration costs by developing a processing technique for a variety of geophysical and geological parameters.

Paulsson, Inc. (Woodland Hills, California): up to $3.0 million This project will advance the collection of seismic data from stimulation zones to accurately characterize enhanced geothermal system reservoirs.

Potter Drilling, Inc. (Redwood City, California): up to $1.5 million This project will adapt hydrothermal spallation drilling technology to increase the effective diameter of wells and increase their production capacity.

See the complete list at the U.S. Department of Energy here.

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, 

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