Last month, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $165 million to expand US geothermal energy deployment.
According to a press release issued by the DOE, the Geothermal Energy from Oil and Gas Demonstrated Engineering (GEODE) initiative will provide $10 million to form a consortium of experts to develop a roadmap for addressing technology and knowledge gaps in geothermal energy, based on best practices used within the oil and gas industry.
The DOE says it will then use that roadmap to fund up to an additional $155 million in research to address those gaps. This funding supports President Biden’s priorities to deploy clean energy sources to combat climate change, strengthen US energy independence, and create good-paying jobs.
“The US has incredible, untapped geothermal potential beneath our very feet, which can be harnessed to meet our energy demands with a round-the-clock, clean renewable resource,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Leveraging the extensive knowledge, technology, skill, and experience of the oil and gas sector is the perfect way to tackle barriers to geothermal deployment while also giving fossil-fuel-based communities and workers a role in the transition to clean energy.”
Although the US geothermal resource is vast, only a small portion of it has been developed due to unique challenges associated with subsurface environments, along with process issues of geothermal projects, such as long permitting timelines.
The oil and gas and geothermal industries have numerous similarities that provide new opportunities for geothermal expansion—from advances in drilling and well construction to co-production possibilities in existing oil and gas basins. Accessing the expertise, technologies, and experience of the larger domestic oil and gas industry can help overcome barriers and encourage private investment.
The DOE says these advances and access to capital can help the United States realize the exponential growth potential of geothermal energy. Through industry collaboration, geothermal deployment can expand at least 60 gigawatts of clean, reliable electricity-generating capacity, which is enough to power more than 40 million American homes.
An award of up to $10 million will be used to select the entity to run the GEODE effort and create a roadmap for subsequent years’ research and outreach initiatives. Any awards beyond the first year are dependent on future Congressional appropriations.