Data Access and Further Resources:
The Geothermal Technologies Office’s (GTO) Data, Modeling, and Analysis (DMA) program supports data compilation and collaboration needs by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data related to geothermal energy.
Expanding geothermal deployment in the United States requires high-quality data and collaboration, and lots of it. Information on all aspects of geothermal development—from resource assessments and drilling to project costs and timelines—is vital to help identify and address barriers to geothermal adoption, assess technical progress across the geothermal sector, and prioritize research.
Work in GTO’s DMA program includes examining nontechnical barriers to geothermal deployment like project permitting, evaluating trends, conducting impact analyses and geothermal resource assessments, identifying best practices, and outlining investments needed to refine the geothermal research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) portfolio.
GTO places significant emphasis on making data available to industry, academia, financiers, utilities, policymakers, and other stakeholders. All GTO-funded projects are required to upload their data to the Geothermal Data Repository for public use. Those data are complemented by Final Technical Reports that GTO researchers upload to OSTI.gov at project completion.
The DMA program uses data to help inform the direction and prioritization of GTO’s RD&D through analysis and strategic planning. Two prevailing documents that guide GTO are (1) the 2019 GeoVision analysis, which projects growth for geothermal energy through 2050; and (2) the 2022 GTO Multi-Year Program Plan, which provides a high-level technology plan for GTO RD&D to support the growth and long-term contribution of geothermal energy to the U.S. electricity grid and U.S. homes and buildings.
The DMA program’s initiatives seek to develop and improve geothermal tools and resources to help the public and geothermal stakeholders assess regulatory needs, simulate the impacts of geothermal energy on communities, and stay updated on geothermal development and technologies. One key example of this work is the U.S. Geothermal Power Production and District Heating Market Report, which identifies where the geothermal power sector is primed for technological innovation and highlights significant opportunities for expanding power production. Other examples include efforts enabled by the Federal Geothermal Partnerships initiative, a collaboration between GTO and the Federal Energy Management Program focused on establishing a technical assistance framework with an innovative workflow that will result in more accurate models and recommendations and deployment-ready reports.
The DMA program also does state outreach work with state and local stakeholders such as those in Hawaii and Alaska, with a focus on determining 1) the energy needs of communities 2) how geothermal may be able to help meet these needs, and 3) potential federal funding mechanisms to assist in developing geothermal resources for selected communities.
Finally, the DMA team is partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to expand capabilities in short- and long-term strategic analysis, with a focus on geothermal valuation, deployment, and techno-economic analysis. The goal is to create more collaboration and better accounting for geothermal in energy planning models, resulting in a geothermal analytical toolkit and modeling tools that integrate geothermal systems effectively. This work includes a forthcoming analysis on the grid impacts of expanded deployment of geothermal heating and cooling into the broader energy system.
GTO’s DMA program participated in an interagency task force comprising multiple federal and state agencies to discuss challenges and opportunities related to geothermal regulatory approvals and permitting, resulting in a report of findings.
GTO's 2019 GeoVision analysis and its supporting task force report on barriers examine key regulatory, permitting, and land-access barriers to geothermal development. The modeling in this effort indicates that an expanded Categorical Exclusion for Exploration Drilling and a Centralized Permitting Office could reduce project timelines enough to drive conventional geothermal power capacity to exceed 12GW by 2050 – a 113% improvement over the Business-as-Usual (BAU) baseline.
For more guidance on understanding and addressing the permitting process, visit GTO’s Permitting for Geothermal Power Development Projects page.
Geothermal Hybrid Projects
To establish new opportunities and methods for geothermal power and industrial heat expansion across the United States, GTO released the Evaluation of Geothermal Hybrids for Near-Term Commercial Deployment lab call in May 2022. Hybridizing and linking geothermal energy with other generation technologies can drive operational synergies and optimize the combined beneficial attributes of multiple technologies. Research conducted through this lab call will help build the case for commercial pathways and expand the breadth of viable geothermal resources. The selected projects are:
- Idaho National Laboratory: Techno-economic analysis of solar topping cycle hybrid geothermal power plants for retrofit and greenfield applications.
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Techno-economic analysis and market potential of reservoir thermal energy storage charged with solar thermal and heat pumps.
- Brookhaven National Laboratory: Cements and a modeling tool to calculate their viability under various exploitation conditions of high-temperature reservoir thermal energy storage systems.
The DMA program commissioned a research and analysis project to assess non-technical barriers to geothermal, resulting in four technical reports:
- Salton Sea Geothermal Development: Nontechnical Barriers to Entry—Analysis and Perspectives
- Non-Technical Barriers to Geothermal Development in California and Nevada (read this report’s accompanying fact sheet as well)
- Economic Impact of Permitting Timelines on Geothermal Power in California, Nevada, and Utah
- Mind the Gap: Comparing the Net Value of Geothermal, Wind, Solar, and Solar+Storage in the Western United States
Grid Cost and Total Emissions Impacts from Mass Deployment of Geothermal Heat Pumps
In 2023, the DMA program supported Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to conduct an analysis assessing potential grid-related and other impacts of national-scale mass deployment of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs). The analysis culminated in a technical report: Grid Cost and Total Emissions Reductions Through Mass Deployment of Geothermal Heat Pumps for Building Heating and Cooling Electrification in the United States.
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