In support of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, the Energy Department today announced $10 million to improve subsurface characterization for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) by developing state-of-the-art methods that quantify critical underground reservoir properties as they change over time. New methods to access engineered reservoirs will speed the deployment of this next generation geothermal technology and support geothermal energy’s continued role in the U.S. clean energy mix.
To generate baseload, renewable power, EGS projects capture power from intensely hot rocks, buried thousands of feet below the surface, that lack the permeability or fluid saturation found in naturally occurring geothermal systems. The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated this vast, untapped thermal resource is between 100 and 500 gigawatts, enough to power millions of American homes.
This funding will advance the Department’s goal of proving EGS technologies and driving down the costs of commercial-scale EGS projects to produce cost-competitive, clean electricity for American homes and businesses. In pursuit of this goal, the Department supports transformative research focused on removing obstacles to commercial EGS development to help industry better access, create, and sustain engineered reservoirs.
This funding will support up to 10 three-year collaborative research and development projects focused on applying innovative technologies to obtain and process high-precision data to better target and explore potential EGS sites. The Department seeks research that analyzes physical and chemical conditions to optimize subsurface engineering and stimulation methods and helps define the development and sustainability of a reservoir during long-term operations. Awards will be structured in two phases, with initial work focused on proving the concepts of the proposed methodology and subsequent phases dedicated to prototyping and field validation.