Illustration showing the layers of the earth and breaking down the word “Geothermal” into its two parts—“Geo” meaning “Earth” and “Thermal” meaning “Heat”

What We Do 

The mission of the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) is to increase geothermal energy deployment through research, development, and demonstration of innovative technologies that enhance exploration and production.

We work in partnership with industry, academia, the U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories, and others on research, development, and demonstration activities focused on these areas:

  • Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS)
    • Advancing commercial viability of EGS, with a focus on reservoir characterization, enhancement, and sustainability.
  • Hydrothermal Resources
    • Improving geothermal exploration, subsurface characterization, and drilling to reduce overall geothermal deployment costs.
  • Low-Temperature & Coproduced Resources
    • Improving the efficiency of low-temperature (<300° F) geothermal systems and expanding their utility through additional revenue streams, such as opportunities for geothermal energy storage.
  • Data, Modeling, and Analysis
    • Addressing nontechnical barriers to geothermal deployment with environmental and resource assessments, data stewardship, and analytical tools that advance geothermal exploration and development.

Why It Matters 

  • Geothermal energy, which comes from the heat beneath our feet, is more vital than ever—it supplies clean, renewable power around the clock, emits little or no greenhouse gases, and has a small environmental footprint.
  • Geothermal energy provides baseload power and delivers a high-capacity factor—typically ~90%—meaning that geothermal power plants can operate at maximum capacity nearly all the time.
    • This high-capacity factor allows geothermal power generation to balance intermittent sources of energy like wind and solar, making it a critical part of the national renewable energy mix. 
  • Geothermal has vast potential to provide clean energy across the entire United States, including electricity generation as well as heating and cooling.
    • Our 2019 GeoVision analysis shows the potential for up to 60 gigawatts of electricity-generating capacity, more than 17,000 district heating systems, and up to 28 million geothermal heat pumps by 2050.
    • If we realize those maximum projections across sectors, it would be the emissions reduction equivalent of taking 26 million cars off U.S. roads every year.

Despite its benefits, geothermal energy is still largely untapped in the United States. By researching, developing, and demonstrating innovative geothermal technologies, GTO is stimulating the growth of the geothermal industry and the renewable energy sector—helping the nation usher in a new energy future and address the climate emergency.

Geothermal Energy News