New Prize To Fast-Track Innovation in Seismic Sensors in Support of Enhanced Geothermal Systems

On Friday, April 22, during an Earth Day event, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the new Geothermal Geophone Prize. The prize, which provides $3.65 million in total incentives, engages with the nation’s innovators and entrepreneurs to rapidly discover, develop, and deliver new high temperature seismic sensor solutions. Downhole seismic sensors, also known as geophones, help researchers and industry professionals better understand and track changes in the subsurface during enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) stimulation. EGS offers great potential to expand the use of geothermal energy and help deliver a carbon-free electricity grid. 

At the event, the American-Made Earth Day Celebration, Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm highlighted the role of innovation to achieve a more sustainable, inclusive, and just energy future. The American-Made Challenges (AMC), supported by DOE and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, rewards entrepreneurs by lowering barriers and fast-tracking the product development timeline from years to months. To date, Granholm noted, DOE has committed $100 million to more than 30 AMC prizes to help empower American ingenuity and combat the climate crisis.

Geothermal Technologies Office Director Susan Hamm announced the Geophone Prize launch, encouraging scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to get involved to help develop a seismic sensor solution.  The harsh environments and the small size of the U.S. geothermal market means manufacturing tools and components can be prohibitively expensive. With this prize, competitors have an opportunity to advance the development of sensors in high-temperature subsurface settings, helping EGS achieve its potential to enable at least 60 gigawatts of projected geothermal electricity capacity by 2050.

Visit the Geothermal Geophone Prize website to find more information and the official prize rules.