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Department of Energy awards $46M to 17 domestic geothermal initiative projects

The U.S. Department of Energy is pushing for further research into whether geothermal systems could provide further carbon-free energy sources, offering up to $46 million to 17 projects through its Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE).

At the heart of this push is enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). While conventional geothermal resources exist, EGS are manmade reservoirs able to be built in most corners of the United States, allowing expansion of geothermal energy production from a traditionally geographically limited energy source.

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

Based at the University of Utah, FORGE is focused on designing EGS systems. There, the latest awardees will be informed of the key mechanisms behind successful EGS, taught to develop, test, and improve new techniques, and trained to rapidly circulate technical data and communicate findings to the public.

Selected projects were split into five topics: devices suitable for zonal isolation in both cased and open hole wellbores under geothermal conditions, estimation of stress parameters, field-scale characterization of reservoir stimulation and evolution over time, stimulation and configuration of the wells at Utah FORGE, and integrated lab and modeling studies of THMC process interactions.

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

Chris Galford

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