Overcoming barriers to geothermal deployment in the United States requires data and collaboration, and lots of it. Information on everything—from geothermal resources and drilling, to how much geothermal projects cost and how long they take to permit—is important to help identify and address barriers to geothermal adoption and assess technical progress across the geothermal sector.
The Geothermal Technologies Office’s (GTO) Data, Modeling, and Analysis (DMA) program supports these needs by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data related to geothermal energy. Work in DMA includes examining nontechnical barriers to geothermal deployment like project permitting, modeling and validating the economics of geothermal, and assessing the environmental and economic effects of geothermal.
GTO places a significant emphasis on making data available to industry, academia, 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 research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) through analysis and strategic planning. Two prevailing documents that guide GTO are (1) the GeoVision analysis, which was published in 2019 and projects growth for geothermal energy over the coming decades under a range of scenarios; and (2) the GTO Multi-Year Program Plan, published in 2022, 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 American homes and buildings.
The DMA program also develops and improves geothermal tools and resources for use by the public and geothermal stakeholders. These features help assess regulatory needs, simulate the impacts of geothermal technologies on communities, and provide updates on geothermal development.
Also check out:
- Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool (CREST)—This NREL tool contains economic, cash-flow models designed to assess project economics, design cost-based incentives, and evaluate the impact of state and federal support structures on renewable energy.
- Geothermal Electricity Technology Evaluation Model (GETEM)—GETEM is an Excel-based tool provided by Idaho National Laboratory to estimate the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for definable geothermal scenarios.
- Geothermal Policymakers Guidebook—This NREL brochure identifies and describes five steps for implementing geothermal policies that may reduce barriers and result in the deployment and implementation of geothermal technologies.
- Geothermal Prospector—NREL offers multiple data sets illustrating geothermal power plants, resources for enhanced geothermal systems, and hydrothermal sites.
- Geothermal Resource Portfolio Optimization and Reporting Technique (GeoRePORT)—Developed by NREL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), GeoRePORT is a free-to-use reporting tool that helps facilitate communication among various experts involved in the development process, as well as to communicate with project leaders and investors without geothermal-specific expertise.
- Induced Seismicity—Read LBNL’s resources on induced seismicity associated with energy production and waste disposal.
- Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) Models—NREL’s JEDI models are user-friendly screening tools that estimate the economic impacts of constructing and operating power plants, fuel production facilities, and other projects at the local or state levels.
- OpenEI—OpenEI’s wiki links to energy information on hundreds of topics, crowdsourced from industry and government agencies.
- RE Explorer—NREL’s RE Explorer provides renewable energy data, analytical tools, and technical assistance to developers, policymakers, and decision makers in developing countries, enabling users to make meaningful decisions that support low-emission development and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) Toolkit—OpenEI’s RAPID Toolkit provides easy access to federal and state permitting information, best practices, and reference material for renewable energy and bulk transmission project development to help navigate the complex system of federal and state regulations necessary to secure project approval.
- System Advisor Model (SAM)—NREL’s SAM is a free techno-economic software model that facilitates decision making for the renewable energy industry. It can model many types of renewable energy systems and perform financial modeling for several kinds of projects.
- 2021 Geothermal Market Report—This National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report highlights areas where the geothermal power sector is primed for technological innovation.
- Doubling Geothermal Generation Capacity by 2020: A Strategic Analysis—In alignment with the 2013 Presidential Climate Action Plan, NREL reviewed 230 geothermal projects in development from 2012–2015 to identify which were most likely to advance the effort to double renewable energy generation.
- Geothermal Resource Classification—This Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) primer provides basics on state and federal geothermal policy.
- Induced Seismicity Protocol—In order to address public concerns and gain acceptance for geothermal energy development, specifically enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), DOE commissioned a group of experts in induced seismicity, geothermal power development, and risk assessment to write a revised Induced Seismicity Protocol. The protocol concludes that with proper study and technology development, induced seismicity can be mitigated and is a useful tool for reservoir management.
- Life Cycle Analysis Results of Geothermal Systems in Comparison to Other Power Systems—This report details a life cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions analysis for geothermal electricity-generation technologies, prepared using Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET (Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Technologies) model.
- Water Efficient Energy Production for Geothermal Resources—This GTO fact sheet offers details about water consumption and the key water usage stages in geothermal development.
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