The first two phases of the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) initiative focused on selecting a site and operations team. During Phase 1, five teams—Snake River Geothermal Consortium; Newberry Geothermal Energy team; Fallon FORGE team; Utah FORGE team; and West Flank FORGE team—worked to complete mission-critical technical and logistical tasks to demonstrate site viability and develop plans for Phase 2.
The Fallon FORGE team and Utah FORGE team proceeded to Phase 2. Learn more about Phase 1 awardees below and visit FORGE Phases and Sites webpage for more information about the Utah FORGE team and the initiative’s phases.
FALLON, NEVADA (SANDIA NATIONAL LABORATORIES) - PHASE 1 AND 2 SITE
The Fallon FORGE team sought to establish and manage a well characterized and highly instrumented field test site dedicated to advancing EGS research, enabling the broader engineering and science community to accelerate the deployment of EGS. Prior geothermal exploration at the proposed site identified attractive temperatures but sub-commercial permeabilities have prevented conventional geothermal development in the area. Led by Sandia National Laboratories, the Fallon FORGE team included members from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.S. Navy & the U.S. Navy Geothermal Program Office, Ormat Nevada, Inc., U.S. Geological Survey (Menlo Park, California), University of Nevada, Reno, GeothermEx / Schlumberger, and Itasca Consulting Group, Inc. The Fallon FORGE team's proposed candidate site proceeded to Phase 2.
The Fallon FORGE site lies within and adjacent to the Naval Air Station Fallon (NASF), located in west-central Nevada. The proposed area, within the Carson Sink, is bound by the Fallon agricultural district to the north and west, the Lahontan and Bunejug Mountains to the east, and the Carson Lake wetlands at the base of the White Throne Mountains to the south. Geothermal exploration in this portion of the Carson Sink has been ongoing since 1973. The site is located on two parcels of land that are owned or controlled by the NASF and Ormat Nevada, Inc. The proposed FORGE location included about 2.5 square miles for full development and 25 square miles for monitoring and instrumentation on surrounding lands.
Within the NASF and Ormat lease area, more than 45 wells had been drilled for geothermal exploration, including 4 exploration wells within the proposed FORGE site that would be available for use in the project. Substantial drilling and analysis of these wells indicate temperatures greater than 350°F (175°C) at depths of 0.93 to 1.2 miles beneath the site; however, extensive flow testing has demonstrated a lack of permeability in the project area. These conditions have prohibited the traditional development of this resource, but with the strong commitments of the U.S. Navy and Ormat Nevada Inc., the location would undergo further exploration from the Fallon FORGE team to assess its potential for EGS development.
SNAKE RIVER PLAIN, IDAHO – PHASE 1 SITE
The Snake River Geothermal Consortium (SRGC), hosted by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), proposed establishing FORGE as a resource for technology development, deployment, and validation. The team included members from Baker Hughes, the Center for Advanced Energy Studies – INL, University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Boise State University, University of Wyoming - Campbell Scientific, Chena Power, Geothermal Resources Group, Idaho Department of Water Resources, Idaho Geologic Survey, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Mink GeoHydro, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, University of Oklahoma, University of Utah, U.S. Geothermal, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The SRGC proposed site did not proceed to Phase 2.
The SRGC team’s proposed site was located within INL’s Geothermal Resource Research Area (GRRA), a parcel of secure U.S. Department of Energy land located along the Snake River Plain in southeastern Idaho, located about 15 miles from the nearest city, Arco. The location was chosen to minimize required surface disturbance while maximizing subsurface access.
A deep geothermal exploration well, INEL-1, located approximately 3.75 miles from the SRGC FORGE location, was used as a reference for planning. Additionally, two USGS groundwater observations wells and several observational and monitoring well were located nearby. Data collected from the nearby wells indicate an average gradient of 207.7°F/mi (54°C/km) and based on the bottom hole temperature of INEL-1, and the range of observed geothermal gradients, the SRGC expects to reach 350°F (175°C) at depths ranging from as little as 1.6 to 2.4 mi (2.6 to 3.8 km), with further data proving a lack of permeability
NEWBERRY VOLCANO, OREGON (PACIFIC NORTHWEST NATIONAL LABORATORY) - PHASE 1 SITE
The Newberry Geothermal Energy team proposed establishing the FORGE site at on the western flank of the Newberry Volcano in Central Oregon. The region surrounding the proposed site, along with its geothermal and EGS potential, was previously explored and researched by members of the team. The understanding and data gathered with those efforts would provide the scientific foundation for establishing a potential FORGE site. The team brought together the scientific research and management experience of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) with the research, educational, and outreach experience of Oregon State University, and the industry and EGS experience of AltaRock Energy, Inc. The Newbery Geothermal Energy team's proposed site did not proceed to Phase 2.
This site is located on U.S. Forest Service land, in a region with the highest untapped geothermal potential in the country, with subsurface geothermal rights leased by an AltaRock subsidiary from the Bureau of Land Management. The project area is about 6 miles from the community of Newberry Estates and 23 miles south of Bend, Oregon. The proposed site includes a geothermal well involved in the successful Newberry Volcano EGS demonstration project, which was funded through Recovery Act funds by GTO.
In the project’s vicinity, numerous wells have been drilled to characterize the resource, including eight deep exploratory wells, eight seismic monitoring boreholes, and two coreholes. The Newberry Geothermal Energy team collected valuable subsurface data during previous research efforts, which helped established a strong relationship between geothermal developers and the local community. Within the project area, measured data indicate temperatures from 350 to 440°F (175 to 225°C) between 0.87 to 1.2 miles. Data from injection tests reveal that the area’s injectivity is several orders of magnitude lower than the lowest permeabilities found in typical hydrothermal fields. The high heat and low permeability make this proposed site a prime candidate for EGS development
- Phase 1 Report, 2016: View the Newberry Geothermal Energy team’s Phase 1 report.
- Geothermal Data Repository: The Geothermal Data Repository (GDR) includes data from the Newberry Geothermal Energy team, as well as data collected from other researchers funded by GTO.
- Newberrygeothermal.com: Find additional information on the Newberry Geothermal Energy team.
WEST FLANK OF COSO, CALIFORNIA (SANDIA NATIONAL LABORATORIES) – PHASE 1 SITE
The West Flank FORGE team proposed an research and development plan that aimed to reduce risks to industry and enable development of enormous EGS resource potential. Drilling in and around the selected FORGE location had indicated remarkably low permeability and very attractive temperatures—key elements for an EGS test site. The West Flank FORGE team was led by Sandia National Laboratories and included members from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.S. Navy & the U.S. Navy Geothermal Program Office, Coso Operating Company, U.S. Geological Survey (Menlo Park, California), University of Nevada, Reno, GeothermEx / Schlumberger, and Itasca Consulting Group, Inc. The West Flank FORGE team's proposed candidate site did not proceed to Phase 2.
The proposed West Flank FORGE, located within the U.S. Navy’s China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, is approximately 35 miles north of Ridgecrest, California, just east of the Sierra Nevada, in the western portion of the Coso volcanic field, where geothermal exploration activities began in the 1960s. The presence of an available deep well that demonstrated EGS conditions, information from numerous other wells within and adjacent to the proposed site, and the shallow granitic basement demonstrated the attractiveness of this candidate FORGE site. Temperature logs in the deep well and other nearby wells enabled the West Flank team to determine that the minimum and maximum temperature range required for FORGE would be encountered between the depths of 0.93 to 1.2 miles, respectively, meeting the required depth and temperature ranges. The site, equipped with 13 nearby borehole seismometers, could be used for tomographic experiments and for monitoring EGS operations.