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The Geothermal Technologies Office received $368.2 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. We awarded funding for projects based on their potential to advance geothermal technology, to lower costs and barriers to market entry, and to foster economic growth by creating jobs.
The 148 awards spanned 38 states and the District of Columbia. The advancements made by these projects will create a diverse portfolio of technologies that allows for the maximization of investment in geothermal energy through the entire spectrum of geothermal resources.
Snapshot of ARRA Projects by Funding and Topic Area
EGS Component R&D Analysis
EGS Component Research & Development (R&D) and Analysis supports EGS field demonstrations by improving technologies required for EGS reservoir creation, geothermal characterization, and long-term sustainability. 45 projects received awards in this topic area totaling $111.9 million (DOE and industry cost share) and an additional 26 projects funded up to $23.7 million received awards in May 2009 under an EGS Technology R&D Lab Call, open only to the DOE National Laboratory System. These 71 projects encompass 19 technology areas identified through two international workshops and collaboration with DOE's Office of Science. Projects in drilling and energy conversion will address cost barriers in accessing geothermal resources and converting the heat into electricity, while projects in reservoir engineering reduce the risk or creating and managing an EGS reservoir.
Validation of Innovative Exploration Technologies
The Innovative Exploration Technologies (IET) initiative lowers the up-front risk and cost associated with geothermal projects; develops new, innovative exploration methods; and confirms new geothermal capacity. The $97.2 million invested (DOE and industry cost share) in IET is estimated to generate 400 MW of energy capacity.
Ground Source Heat Pumps
$62.4 million in total funding (DOE and industry cost share) was allocated to ground source heat pump (GSHP) projects. DOE seeks to transform the market for GSHPs by demonstrating that large-scale applications and innovative financing help reduce installed costs. This investment will result in an increase in heating/cooling capacity by over 18,000 tons and save more than $18 million in utility costs per year over a 25-year period.
Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) Demonstrations
Three EGS Demonstration projects, totaling $44.2 million (DOE and industry cost share) will demonstrate the technical feasibility of EGS technologies in different geologic conditions and help overcome technical barriers such as the ability to validate stimulation techniques that successfully sustain the reservoir over an extended period of time. The knowledge gained from these demonstration projects will be fed back into future research and development.
Geothermal Data, Development, Collection and Maintenance
The focus of the Geothermal Data, Development, Collection and Maintenance initiative is to collect, catalogue, and link information to the National Geothermal Data System, which is under development through a separate Recovery Act award. These projects will increase the availability of data to the public and industry thereby reducing the high up-front costs and risk associated with geothermal exploration. In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey received Recovery Act funding to develop an updated Geothermal Resource Assessment and Classification of low-temperature, co-produced, and moderate-to-high temperature resources for the entire United States.
Low-Temperature, Oil and Gas Co-produced and Geopressured Demonstrations
Low-temperature, co-produced and geopressured geothermal resources offer near-term energy production opportunities in a variety of geographic regions. These projects received a total of $18.7 million in funding (DOE and industry cost share). Low-temperature resources are defined as having a geo-fluid temperature of less than 300°F; current technology allows for extraction of energy from fluids with temperature as low as 150°F. This technology can take advantage of waste-water expelled from oil and gas production wells and other sources of low-to-moderate temperature fluids.