Energy Department Announces $3 Million to Lower Cost of Geothermal Energy and Boost U.S. Supply of Critical Materials

February 14, 2014

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The Energy Department today announced $3 million for research and development to help grow U.S. low-to-moderate-temperature geothermal resources and support a domestic supply of critical materials, such as lithium carbonate and rare earth elements. By partnering with the geothermal and mineral industries, the Department is working to expand the geographic diversity of clean, renewable geothermal energy beyond the traditional western region of the United States.

Rare earths and other critical materials are essential for a range of technologies, including electric vehicles and wind turbines, as well as personal electronics such as cell phones and laptops. The use of lithium batteries, for instance, has soared over the last decade, and industry expects annual global demand for lithium carbonate used to manufacture these batteries to exceed 250,000 tons by 2017—a 60% increase from today. As demand grows in this market, securing reliable domestic supplies of critical materials for advanced manufacturing remains a growing challenge. The Department aims to advance cost-competitive geothermal energy while helping to meet this increasing demand.

The Energy Department will fund up to ten feasibility studies and/or applied research and development projects to advance technologies that could lower the cost of geothermal energy production while diversifying and stabilizing the supply of critical materials for domestic industries. Learn more about this ‘Low-Temperature Mineral Recovery Program’ funding opportunity. You can also view a recorded webinar on this opportunity.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. EERE supports innovative technologies that reduce both risk and costs of bringing geothermal power online. Learn more about the Department's efforts to develop geothermal energy.