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.
GTO advances the nation's potential to generate electricity and produce heating and cooling for U.S. homes from clean, domestic geothermal resources by releasing competitive solicitations. These take the forms of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs), Notices of Technical Assistance, Prizes, Competitions, and Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs. Learn more about past and present GTO funding opportunities.
Here's how the cycle of a typical GTO fiscal year works:
- GTO receives taxpayer money, appropriated to GTO by Congress ($110M in 2021).
- To ensure money is released the right way, GTO reaches out to diverse stakeholders for strategic direction and planning (typically public/private companies, municipalities, universities, and national laboratories).
- GTO makes these plans available to the public.
- GTO offers the public opportunities to receive funding for geothermal projects. Entities apply, and after a GTO review and negotiation, GTO selects projects and releases funding to those entities. These projects may perform research, development, and demonstration activities that will drive more geothermal use.
- GTO then monitors how the entities spend those funds.
- Finally, GTO releases public data and reports, and hosts events showcasing the projects’ results and progress for broad accessibility.
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 and heating & cooling.
- Electricity Generation: Our Enhanced Geothermal Shot™ analysis confirmed the potential for 90 gigawatts of geothermal electricity-generating capacity—the equivalent of powering 65 million American homes—by 2050. If we realize this potential, it will unlock geothermal electricity generation nationwide.
- Heating & Cooling: Our 2019 GeoVision analysis shows the potential for more than 17,000 district heating systems and up to 28 million geothermal heat pumps by 2050. If we realize those maximum projections in heating and cooling, it would be the emissions reduction equivalent of taking 20 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
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