New edition of The Drill Down!

From the Director

The Drill Down, from the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO), is back for its second issue, and there is a lot to cover. If you’re new to our subscriber list, below you will find information on open funding announcements, competitions and prizes, newly released publications and products, upcoming events and webinars, and other hot topics. Share The Drill Down with your friends and colleagues and encourage them to subscribe. Feedback or suggestions for content? Please reach us at DOE.Geothermal@ee.doe.gov.

BUDGET NEWS! Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Request, which reflects the urgent climate emergency we are facing and the vital role EERE will play to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. To lead in the transition to a 100% clean energy economy, EERE’s budget request of $4.73 billion includes more than $1 billion in new funding to deploy the clean energy technologies that can deliver pollution-free, affordable energy to all Americans while creating jobs and building a more equitable economy.

The FY 2022 Budget Request for GTO supports the administration’s efforts to reach a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and a net-zero economy by 2050. GTO’s $163.76 million request would leverage oil and gas subsurface assets, technologies, and expertise to help solve geothermal energy’s toughest challenges while providing clean energy employment opportunities for energy communities. The request also seeks support for efforts to prove the viability of drilling technologies and methods to reduce the cost of developing geothermal wells to attract private investment. Both of these new investments will accelerate decarbonization of the electric sector via technology development, demonstration, and workforce transition, especially in energy communities. To learn more, read the Budget in Brief and Congressional Justification, which can both be found on DOE’s Budget and Performance webpage. GTO and EERE’s other renewable power offices will hold a budget webinar on June 17 at 4 p.m. ET. Register today! 

—GTO Director Susan Hamm

Announcements

Funding Opportunity: Wells of Opportunity 2021

On June 10, DOE announced up to $14.5 million to deploy more geothermal using new Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) technologies and techniques within underutilized or idle wells. Projects funded by this opportunity will demonstrate that low-cost power production from EGS is possible near existing hydrothermal fields. Wells of Opportunity will also establish a pilot program where the production of geothermal heat from existing hydrocarbon fields can be demonstrated for electricity production or direct use applications. GTO is excited to network with new stakeholders on this, so please help us get the message out!

Applications are due by 5 p.m. ET on July 26. Want to learn more? View the funding opportunity announcement and application instructions for more information.

Funding Opportunity: Innovative Methods to Control Hydraulic Properties of Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Closes today! In April, DOE announced up to $12 million in funding for technologies to make geothermal systems more efficient for clean, renewable energy production. Projects funded by this opportunity will yield EGS technologies that can target and control reservoir fracture systems, allowing EGS to reach technical maturity and realize its vast potential.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. ET June 15. For more information, visit EERE Exchange.

Prioritizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives 

Ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across our workforce and the entire clean energy industry is a priority for the Biden Administration, DOE, and EERE. You may have noticed new DEI language in recent funding opportunity announcements, including the two listed above. EERE is requiring all applicants to include a DEI plan in their applications that describes the actions the applicant will take to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment; advance equity; support people from underrepresented groups in STEM and encourage the inclusion of individuals from these groups in the project; and show the extent the project activities will be located in or benefit underserved communities.

Are you curious about how DOE investments are distributed in disadvantaged and underserved communities? Would you like to learn more about how to combat structural racism and inequality within our nation’s energy system? Check out the Energy Justice Dashboard! DOE’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity recently launched the site as a pilot data visualization tool to better understand how DOE funding and investments are distributed to disadvantaged communities that shoulder a heavier energy burden.

GTO is also increasing outreach efforts to raise awareness of clean energy job opportunities at minority-serving institutions and ensuring that organizations receiving EERE funding are thinking through diversity and equity in their own work.

Funding Opportunity: Joint Call 2021- Accelerating the Heating and Cooling Transition

GEOTHERMICA Era-Net and Joint Programming Platform Smart Energy Systems have issued a Joint Call for project proposals to accelerate the heating and cooling transition through research, development, demonstration, and innovation. DOE is a contributing funder of this Joint Call, which is only open to U.S. national labs and labs in partnership with other entities. Projects may focus on heating and cooling as well as power production (hydrothermal and EGS).

The deadline for pre-proposal submissions is October 4. For more information, visit geothermica.eu.

Competition and Prize Updates

Geothermal Collegiate Competition: Winners Announcement

DOE will host a live virtual celebration on June 16 at 2 p.m. ET to announce the winners of the Spring 2021 Geothermal Collegiate Competition. Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman will present the awards, and GTO staff are featured speakers.

The event will include highlights from winning projects, cash prize awards for first, second, and third place, and honorable mentions for geoscience and stakeholder engagement strategies, as well as a preview of the Fall 2021 Geothermal Collegiate Competition. Register today!

American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize

Reminder: Make sure to submit Phase 1 entries for the American-Made Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize. The Prize is designed to advance direct lithium extraction technologies that improve the economics, lessen environmental impacts of lithium extraction from geothermal brines, and support the U.S. critical minerals supply chain. Competitors will participate in three escalating challenges for an opportunity to win a portion of a $4 million cash prize pool.

GTO Funds SBIR/STTR Award for Highly Conductive Nano-engineered Geopolymer Cements for Geothermal Applications

Please join GTO in congratulating Greenpath Systems LLC for its selection as a Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) awardee. The project is one of 110 EERE projects recently funded through DOE’s SBIR/STTR programs. The SBIR and STTR programs support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy. The objective of Greenpath’s project is to investigate and develop geopolymer grouts enhanced by nano-material fillers to be used in the completion of subsurface wells for geothermal/ground source heat pumps, which operate across the United States. These grouts show promise for reducing well completion costs as well as overall project costs for installation and operation. Ultimately, the project will help reduce the carbon footprint of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.

Learn more about all the SBIR/STTR awardees.

GTO Staff Spotlight

New Energy Cast Podcast Episode Featuring Alexis McKittrick

Mark your calendar for June 21 to listen to GTO’s own Alexis McKittrick as a guest on Energy Cast podcast with host Jay Dauenhauer. Dr. McKittrick will talk about the tremendous untapped potential of geothermal as an always-available energy source and discuss new geothermal programs and initiatives in hydrothermal resources and deep direct use of geothermal energy!

Listen to the podcast and in case you missed it, be sure to listen to past Energy Cast podcasts with GTO’s Lauren Boyd on EGS and the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) initiative and Director Susan Hamm on the potential of geothermal and GTO’s role.

Events and Webinars

Association of American State Geologists Annual Meeting

The 112th annual meeting of the Association of American State Geologists (AASG) is being held virtually from June 14 to 17 and is highlighting the advances of science and applications of geology and earth sciences in the United States. GTO Director Susan Hamm shared information about GTO’s ongoing and potential future activities. Find more information about the event on the AASG website.

ARMA 55th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium

Join GTO Director Hamm at American Rock Mechanics Association’s (ARMA) 55th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium. This virtual symposium, sponsored by GTO, is taking place from June 18 to 25 and will focus on technical advances and innovative applied research in rock mechanics and geomechanics. On June 21, Director Hamm will provide an overview of GTO activities and participate in a panel discussion on geothermal technical challenges with members of the Utah FORGE Science and Technology Analysis Team.

In addition, the winners of the ARMA Student Design Competition will be announced at the symposium.

Girls in Tech

GirlCon is an international event for high school “women in tech,” organized entirely by students for the fourth year running. The conference empowers young women interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). At this virtual event from June 27 to 30, panelists from the National Nuclear Security Administration, DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, and DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory will share information about their roles in government, and how they’re working to apply artificial intelligence to energy, climate, and nuclear weapons, as well as sustainable energy and national security. Tune in and register for this event today!

Neutrino Day 2021

Join the Sanford Underground Research Facility from July 9 to 10 for the virtual Neutrino Day 2021. Attendees can talk with scientists, explore interactive activities, experience weird science demonstrations, take virtual tours of the underground, and visit the art gallery and library—all in real time! Attend this free virtual event by visiting www.neutrinoday.com.

Visit the EGS Collab’s virtual booth on Saturday, July 10, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET. View videos and a poster and ask EGS Collab staff your questions about geothermal energy research.

PIVOT 2021 Celebrating the Geothermal Decade

Save the date for this year's Pivot2021 event under the theme "Geothermal. Reimagined" (pivoting hydrocarbons to geothermal), which will take place July 19 to 23. As the second run of this popular conference, the event, supported by GTO, is free to attend and is co-hosted by the University of Texas at Austin and multiple professional oil, gas, and geothermal associations. Register today!

New York Geothermal Energy Organization 2021 Webinar Series

In April, the New York Geothermal Energy Organization (NY-GEO) kicked off a new webinar series. Topics have included GeoStar Top Job Competition highlights, heat pump adoption, electrifying buildings, and ductless technology. To view recordings of past sessions, please visit NY-GEO 2021 Webinar Series. New sessions held every Tuesday at noon ET.

Publications and Products

International Energy Agency 2020 U.S. Geothermal Report

The International Energy Agency recently published the 2020 U.S. Geothermal Report authored by GTO. This report, alongside companion reports published from other geothermally active countries, provides a comprehensive view of international geothermal capacity and usage, as well as an assessment of current and recent research, development, and demonstration initiatives.

Some highlights from the report include:

  • The United States remains the leader in installed geothermal capacity, with close to 25% of the world’s total online capacity.
  • The current geothermal contribution to U.S. energy capacity is less than 1%, but it has the potential of reaching more than 8% by 2050.

Read the report to learn more.

Reports on Financing Clean Energy Transitions in Emerging and Developing Economies and World Energy Investment

Last week, the IEA released a special report on Financing Clean Energy Transitions in Emerging and Developing Economies. The report, based on analysis of nearly 50 real-world case studies, proposes actions to take before 2030 to finance clean energy transitions. The report prioritizes market-ready sectors and includes options for financing transitions in emission-intensive sectors. To learn more, watch a video about the report.

In addition, IEA recently shared its World Energy Investment 2021 report. This report looks at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and whether the recovery of energy investments will be uneven across sectors and geographic locations. The report provides 2021 estimates of energy investments.

IEA also announced that Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm will serve as the chair for the next IEA Ministerial meeting, planned for February 2022 in Paris, France. 

Geothermal Energy Around the Web

  • ORNL Analyzes Use of 3D Printing for Geothermal Energy Production. DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is manufacturing custom tools for geothermal energy development using 3D printing, a more cost-effective method of making some specialized tools. 
  • Heat Beneath Our Feet. The Utah FORGE team successfully completed its first deep highly deviated well. A first of its kind for geothermal, the well was drilled in hot, hard granite. It has a 65-degree deviation from vertical and ultimately reached a true vertical depth of 8,559 feet, with a total measured depth of 10,987 feet. Watch an overview of the drill site near Milford, UT.
  • Google Turns to Geothermal Energy to Power its Carbon-Free Moonshot. Google and Fervo have partnered on a project to power Google’s data centers in Nevada, using artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions that could increase productivity of next-generation geothermal and make it more effective at responding to demand. The project will provide an always available carbon-free resource to reduce reliance on the state’s electric grid system while also filling in the gaps left by variable renewable energy sources.
  • Re-awakening Interest in Geothermal Energy in Alaska. There is growing interest in geothermal development in the state of Alaska, which has introduced legislation to increase the sizes of allowable leases for geothermal exploration. Two companies are awaiting final approval to tap the geothermal potential of Mount Spurr. Geothermal is an attractive option for the state, which has high energy costs.
  • Maryland Eyes Expansion of Geothermal Industry. Maryland has adopted a bill requiring 1% of the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard to be derived from geothermal energy by 2028, which would double the size of the current geothermal market in the state.
  • ORMAT acquires 67.5 MW capacity from Terra-Gen. Ormat Technologies recently announced an agreement to purchase two geothermal power plants in Nevada. The agreement will enhance Ormat’s ability to provide electricity in California and Nevada, helping both states to meet clean energy requirements.
  • Hot and Bothered About Geothermal Energy. Did you know: New geothermal technologies could enable the earth’s heat to provide as much as 16% of U.S. electricity by 2050, and DOE has announced $15 million in funding for projects supporting geothermal energy employment in communities impacted by changes in the energy economy?

Did we miss your event or an interesting media piece? Please reach out to us at DOE.Geothermal@ee.doe.gov!