DOE seeking to advance Enhanced Geothermal Shot initiative

Published on September 13, 2022 by Dave Kovaleski

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced plans to make enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) a widespread renewable energy option by reducing its cost by 90 percent by 2035 to $45 per megawatt hour.

The DOE’s Enhanced Geothermal Shot seeks to unlock the earth’s heat resources to provide reliable, clean power and expand opportunities for the domestic geothermal industry. The DOE points out this nearly inexhaustible source has the capacity in the United States to produce five terawatts of heat resources—enough to meet the electricity needs of the entire world. Capturing a small fraction of this could power over 40 million American homes. Achieving the Enhanced Geothermal Shot will help facilitate President Joe Biden’s goals of 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

“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,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said. “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.”

EGS has the potential to become a powerhouse of U.S. economic growth, especially for rural communities. 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.

Geothermal energy currently generates about 3.7 gigawatts of electricity in the United States, but a substantial amount of geothermal energy is not accessible with current technology as EGS resources are located at least 4,000 feet underground. The Enhanced Geothermal Shot seeks to address these challenges. That’s why the DOE is investing million in research and innovation to advance EGS drilling and engineering.

The DOE recently invested $44 million to help spur EGS innovations for DOE’s Frontier Observatory for Geothermal Energy Research (FORGE) field laboratory. It also invested up to $165 million to transfer best practices from oil and gas to advance both EGS and conventional geothermal. Further, the infrastructure law includes $84 million to advance EGS through four pilot EGS demonstration projects.

In the near future, DOE plans to hold an Enhanced Geothermal Shot Summit to engage state and local communities, industry, and other stakeholders.