The U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) announced it will continue funding for 5 projects aligned with Phase III Play Fairway Analysis (PFA) activities. GTO will award up to $5 million in additional funding to five of the original 11 projects from the 2014 PFA Funding Opportunity Announcement. The awards will address the overarching theme of uncertainty quantification and reduction in geothermal exploration, specifically through the development of Geothermal Play Fairways.
The concept of "play fairway analysis" has been used to identify potential locations of blind hydrothermal systems in the western U.S. A play fairway analysis defines levels of uncertainty with respect to the presence and utility of geothermal system elements, and translates them into maps to high grade the geographic area over which the most favorable combinations of heat, permeability, and fluid are thought to exist. Phase III moves the projects into an exploratory drilling campaign that will test the Phase I and II developed models’ ability to discover new resources. Once identified, hydrothermal resources can be brought online quickly with current technologies, supporting the near-term expansion of renewable energy in America.
This systematic approach early in the exploration process can reduce costly drilling and improve the probability of successfully tapping the vital mix of high temperatures and sufficient water flow necessary to generate electricity from geothermal energy. By improving success rates for exploration drilling, this data-mapping tool will help attract investment in geothermal projects and significantly lower the costs of geothermal energy.
The selected Phase III awardees are: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, University of Nevada, Reno – Reno, Nevada
Utah State University – Logan, Utah
University of Hawaii – Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Utah - EGI Great Basin – Salt Lake City, Utah
Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources – Olympia, Washington