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U.S. Department of Energy Awards $46 Million for Geothermal Initiative Projects with Potential to Power Millions of U.S. Homes

Research to Unleash Enhanced Geothermal Systems Can Unlock Innovative Carbon-Free Clean Energy Source

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced that its Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) Initiative at the University of Utah has selected 17 projects to receive up to $46 million in funding for cutting-edge, domestic, and carbon-free geothermal projects with potential to supply power to homes in the United States.

“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,” said Kathleen Hogan, Acting Under Secretary for Science and Energy. “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.”

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are different from conventional geothermal resources that occur naturally in the U.S. 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 FORGE Initiative began with the selection of five projects in 2015, with the Utah FORGE site and team announced in 2018. Utah FORGE is a laboratory where scientists and researchers learn how to engineer these manmade EGS systems, and is the first dedicated field site of its kind. Awardees will gain a fundamental understanding of the key mechanisms controlling EGS success; develop, test and improve new techniques in an ideal EGS environment; and rapidly disseminate technical data and communicate lessons learned and best practices to the public.

“Energy-rich Beaver County continues to be a flagship area for renewable energy production, as it is home to the commercial scale of solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal production,” said Senator Mitt Romney. “This funding will support the continued partnership between the University of Utah and the Department of Energy to expand geothermal energy and make progress toward commercializing new innovative sources of energy for our state and the country.”

“This grant will further the development of renewable, clean energy,” said Senator Bob Casey. “Penn State continues to be at the forefront of research into 21st century challenges. I applaud the students and researchers at Penn State for their work to receive this grant.”

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

“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, which is why I introduced the Advanced Geothermal Research and Development Act and advocated for its inclusion in the Energy Act of 2020. As has been witnessed in the great state of Oklahoma, by investing in early-stage research in enhanced geothermal systems, we can dramatically improve our ability to access and use clean and constant geothermal energy. We know that American industry and our research enterprises have the necessary resources to successfully diversify America’s energy resources, and the FORGE initiative funds announced today ensure we continue our journey further developing clean energy technologies.”

“Enhanced Geothermal Systems are exciting technologies that will enable the expansion and scalability of geothermal energy across the nation,” said Dr. Will Pettitt, Executive Director of Geothermal Rising, the industry’s professional and trade association. “With today’s announcement, the FORGE project will provide research, development, and demonstration of these technologies, breathing welcome support into the industry by the Department of Energy and steering a successful future for a clean and renewable energy source that helps secure the nation’s energy needs, decarbonize our society, and fight climate change. The project also provides countless technology crossover benefits for shovel-ready geothermal projects that will directly create quality jobs and welcome relief for the economy.”

Geothermal energy technologies supported by DOE have enjoyed strong bipartisan congressional support. In 2020, Congress renewed and expanded its commitment to geothermal energy through funding for research, development, and demonstration projects through the Energy Act of 2020.

Utah FORGE, in collaboration with the DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office, selected the following projects to move forward into award negotiations:

Topic 1: Devices suitable for sectional (zonal) isolation along both cased and open-hole wellbores under geothermal conditions

  • Welltec / Katy, TX
  • PetroQuip Energy Services, LLC / Waller, TX
  • Colorado School of Mines / Golden, CO

Topic 2: Estimation of stress parameters

  • Battelle Memorial Institute / Columbus, OH
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory / Livermore, CA
  • The University of Oklahoma / Norman, OK

Topic 3: Field-scale characterization of reservoir stimulation and evolution over time, including thermal, hydrological mechanical, and chemical (THMC) effects

  • Clemson University / Clemson, SC
  • Stanford University / Stanford, CA
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory / Berkeley, CA
  • Rice University / Houston, TX

Topic 4: Stimulation and configuration of the well(s) at Utah FORGE

  • Fervo Energy / Houston, TX
  • The University of Texas at Austin / Austin, TX

Topic 5: Integrated laboratory and modeling studies of the interactions among THMC processes

  • Pennsylvania State University / State College, PA
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory / Livermore, CA
  • U.S. Geological Survey / Denver, CO
  • The University of Oklahoma / Norman, OK
  • Purdue University / West Lafayette, IN

To learn more, visit the Utah FORGE website.

Article courtesy of US Department of Energy.

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