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DOE Funds 21 Research, Development and Demonstration Projects for up to $78 Million to Promote Enhanced Geothermal Systems

October 6, 2008 - 4:29pm


RENO, Nev.  – Today at the National Geothermal Conference in Reno, Nev., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy Steve Chalk announced the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) awards under a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for research, development and demonstration of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) for next-generation geothermal energy technologies. 

Subject to annual appropriations, the Department will provide up to $43.1 million over four years to 21 awardees, including a record 13 awards to first-time recipients.  With cost-share by the recipients, the public-private investments will be up to $78 million.  Increasing the use of geothermal resources supports President Bush's goals diversifying the nation's energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen national energy security.

“Our office is proud to expand our public-private partnerships with first-time applicants and award recipients. We consider this excellent proof of the growing opportunities and interest in geothermal technology research and project development,” Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy Steve Chalk said.

“With these awards, we are growing our geothermal community to include the technical expertise of our valued national laboratories, innovative industry partners and the very best of academia. This robust team will help us meet our aggressive departmental goal to prove the technical feasibility of Enhanced Geothermal Systems by 2015.”

Combined with the minimum industry cost-share of 20 percent, and subject to annual appropriations, up to $78 million is slated for public-private investment in these 21 projects over the next four years.  Geographic diversity makes these projects appealing as DOE looks to expand the perception of EGS potential, new site locations may reveal new opportunities. Additionally, these partnerships with universities will encourage innovation, while the added value of our national laboratories will lend expertise to project development.

The FOA solicited applications in two topic areas: component technologies research and development, and system demonstrations. DOE announced 17 awards in research and development that will address aspects of engineered reservoir creation, management and utilization at high temperatures up to 300°C and depths as great as 10,000 meters, including 12 awards to first-time recipients. The four recipients selected under systems demonstration, including one award to a first-time recipient, will allow testing and validation of stimulation techniques for improving productivity of wells or increasing inter-well connectivity at existing geothermal fields.

A list of award recipients by topic areas follows:

Component Technologies R&D: DOE awarded $8.7 million to fund these projects for a total of up to $19.1 million over four years, subject to annual appropriations. Award recipients will contribute up to $11.2 million for a total of up to $30.3 million in public-private research and development activities.

Baker-Hughes, Inc (Houston, Texas): to develop an ultrasonic borehole televiewer that can operate at a temperature of 300˚C and at a depth of 10,000 meters.  The proposed tool will provide a means to detect fractures in the subsurface and is critical for the commercialization of EGS (up to $3,139,364).

Colorado School of Mines, Boise State University, Flint LLC, Mt. Princeton Geothermal LLC (Golden, Colo.): to conduct a geophysical characterization of a geothermal system taking advantage of the latest developments in Self Potential Method and Seismic Interferometry (up to $867,564).

Composite Technology with Wood Group ESP and New England Wire Technology (Lafayette, Colo.): to develop and demonstrate Electric Submersible Pump (ESP) motor coil designs that utilize proprietary inorganic insulation materials. These materials can be applied to motor coil winding conductors using conventional motor fabrication processes and provide superior electrical performance at elevated temperatures (up to $987,739).

Foulger Consulting and U.S. Geological Survey, Geosystem with WesternGeco, US Navy, Magma Energy US Corporation, and DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Menlo Park, Calif.): to develop high-resolution micro-earthquake tools and methods suited to monitoring EGS-induced geothermal micro-earthquakes. The ultimate goal is to develop an industrial tool to obtain detailed seismic structure of geothermal areas without the need for major active-source seismic surveys (up to $561,729).

GE Global Research with Auburn University and GE Energy (Niskayuna, N.Y.): to develop a platform of electronics technologies that can operate at 300 °C and 10 km depth enabling the measurement of temperature, flow, pressure and seismicity in an EGS reservoir (up to $1,599,934).

Hattenburg, Dilley, and Linnell, LLC with University of Utah/Energy and Geoscience Institute (EGI) (Anchorage, Alaska): to identify open fracture systems by their Fluid Inclusion Stratigraphy (FIS) chemical signature; differences based on the mineral assemblages and geology of the system; and chemical precursors in the wall rock above open, large fractures (up to $313,858).

Hi-Q Geophysical Inc., Ormat Technologies, Inc. and Stephen Muir with DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Ponca City, Okla.): to develop surface and borehole seismic methodologies using both compression and shear waves for characterizing fractures in EGS. Both VSP and surface multi-component acquisition geometries will be evaluated (up to $817,757).

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chevron and DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory (Cambridge, Mass.): to combine detailed high-resolution analysis of microseismicity accompanying the stimulation of an EGS reservoir with a state-of-the-art geomechanical model of the reservoir to investigate the relationship between the seismicity and flow characteristics  (up to $508,633).

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New England Research with ENEL North America (Cambridge, Mass.): to combine the use of geophysical methods for reservoir and fracture characterization with a rock physics model calibrated via advanced laboratory measurements made on reservoir rocks under in situ conditions of temperature (up to 300˚C) and pressure (up to $1,019,769).

Perma Works and Frequency Management International, ElectroChemical Systems Inc, Draka Cableteq, Pacific Process Systems Inc, Tiger Wireline Inc, Viking Engineering, Kuster Company, Electronic Workmanship Standards Inc, Eclipse NanoMed, Honeywell SSEC (Albuquerque, N.M.): to commercialize the Sandia/DOE HT SOI chipset by addressing the most troubling issues found when designing for long-term exposure to the geothermal well environments such as inter-metallic growth, printed circuit board delamination, ceramic capacitors shorting, and the lack of a safe HT battery (up to $2,200,000).

Schlumberger (Sugar Land, Texas): to extend the internal operating range of Electrically Submersible Pump (ESP's) to 338°C for application in both geothermal and the increasingly hotter Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD)  wells and to develop a heat transfer model that will adequately predict the ESP's internal operating temperature  (up to $1,245,751).

Schlumberger (Sugar Land, Texas): to develop a downhole monitoring system to be used in wells with bottom hole temperatures up to 300˚C for measuring parameters of an Electrically Submersible Pump (ESP) and well conditions (pressure and temperature) and develop a heat transfer model for the motor that will adequately predict ESP internal operating temperature (up to $1,253,959).

Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.): to develop wellbore tools including a downhole enthalpy meter and reservoir engineering approaches including nanotechnology, Resistivity Computer Tomography (RCT) method, and nonparametric regression for fracture characterization in both near well and interwell regions (up to $967,541).

Texas A&M University with AltaRock, DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of Mississippi (College Station, Texas): to develop an improved seismicity-based reservoir characterization (SBRC) technology by combining rock mechanics, finite element modeling, geo-statistical concepts, and state-of-the-art stochastic inversion techniques to establish relationships between micro-seismicity, reservoir flow and geomechanical characteristics (up to $820,198).

Texas A&M University with AltaRock, DOE's Sandia National Laboratory and University of Mississippi (College Station, Texas): to develop a 3-D numerical model for simulating tensile, shear, and out-of-plane propagation of multiple fractures and fracture clusters to accurately predict geothermal reservoir stimulation using the novel approach of Virtual Multi-dimensional Internal Bond (VMIB) (up to $690,953).

University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah): Demonstrate absorbing tracers, measure near-well fracture surface area via tracer modeling, and develop a tool that measures fluid flow via tracers. (up to $1,091,039).

University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah): to investigate the effect of proppants on fracture stability and their interactions with injected fluids at geothermal temperatures in environments that simulate stresses within the reservoir. The use of proppants to both maintain open fractures, as well as their potential to divert fluids from fracture pathways detrimental to long term sustainability (e.g. fast paths), will be assessed (up to $978,180).

System Demonstrations: DOE awarded $3.7 million to fund these projects, for a total of up to approximately $24 million over four years, subject to annual appropriations. Industry alone will contribute an additional $23.7 million, an almost 50 percent cost-share. This total of up to $47.7 million shows tremendous cooperative effort in EGS development. The success of these projects could result in over 400 MWe in new grid capacity within the next five years.

AltaRock Energy Inc. and Northern California Power Agency, University of Utah, Texas A&M University, Science Applications International Corporation, Temple University (Seattle, WA): to use an innovative stimulation process to create an EGS reservoir that will drill below the permeable zone, stimulate in the contained zone with infrastructure in place, and increase power production (up to $6,014,351).

Geysers Power Co., LLC and DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Middletown, Calif.): to deepen wells into a high temperature zone and thermally stimulate with cold water to increase power production (up to $5,697,700).

ORMAT Nevada, Inc. and GeothermEx, DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of Utah, Pinnacle Technologies, GeoMechanics International, University of Nevada - Reno, TerraTek/Schlumberger (Reno, Nev.): to stimulate multiple wells at Brady Field to access existing fracture system (up to $3,374,430).

University of Utah and U.S. Geothermal, APEX Petroleum Engineering Services, HiPoint Reservoir Imaging, Chevron (Salt Lake City, Utah): To perform a monitored hydraulic stimulation of an existing injection well at Raft River (Selected for negotiation of award in FY09) (up to $8,928,999).

DOE's geothermal technologies program works in partnership with U.S. industry to establish geothermal energy as an economically competitive contributor to the U.S. energy supply.