Energy Department Announces $18.8 Million for Hydrothermal and Low Temperature Geothermal Research

Source: DOE, Feb 4 2020

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $18.8 million toward the research and development (R&D) of innovative subsurface geothermal technologies. DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) will fund up to six projects focused on two topic areas:

  • Topic 1: Exploration RD&D: Hidden Geothermal Systems in the Basin and Range; and
  • Topic 2: Advanced Energy Storage Initiative (AESI): Bi-directional Energy Storage Using Low-Temperature Geothermal Applications.

This multi-topic funding opportunity aims to drive down costs and risks associated with the discovery of hidden geothermal systems in the Basin & Range region of the western U.S., and to enhance energy system resilience through utilization of Reservoir Thermal Energy Storage (RTES), Deep Direct-Use (DDU), and other geothermal direct use applications. These applications can be deployed at military installations, hospital complexes, and other large energy end-uses across the U.S., such as university campuses.

Topic 1 builds on the success of GTO’s Play Fairway Analysis (PFA) initiative, which over the past five years has adapted the PFA technique from the oil and gas industry to the geothermal industry. PFA is a method of targeting undiscovered, or hidden, hydrothermal systems by incorporating a regional or basin-wide distribution of known geologic factors that control the occurrence of particular geothermal systems. This technique reduces uncertainty in geothermal exploration, ultimately reducing cost and risk for geothermal operators.

Topic 2 aligns with DOE’s prioritization of energy storage as a critical area of research, and continues GTO’s recent work in assessing the feasibility of DDU across various regions of the U.S. RTES is a technology that greatly complements DDU for space heating – for example, excess thermal energy generated in the summer could be redirected and stored in a subsurface reservoir for winter heating. In addition to providing a renewable source of heat, DDU and RTES help enhance electrical grid reliability by potentially offsetting heating and cooling demands that would otherwise manifest as electrical loads.

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