The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office’s (GTO) Fiscal Year 2022-2026 Multi-Year Program Plan provides a high-level technology plan that will plan for key areas of GTO research to support the growth and long-term contribution of geothermal energy to the U.S. electricity grid and American homes and buildings.

Executive Summary

Geothermal energy—the “heat beneath our feet”—is a firm, flexible source of clean, secure, and reliable domestic energy that can be utilized across industrial, commercial, and residential sectors. Geothermal energy offers important benefits to the nation, including grid stability, greater diversity of affordable energy options, efficient heating and cooling, key technology and workforce pathways from oil and gas to renewable geothermal development, and lower carbon emissions to help transition Americans to a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and a net-zero emission economy by 2050, while ensuring the clean energy economy benefits all Americans.

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Secretary Granholm and the director of the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO), Susan Hamm, dig into GTO’s Multi-Year Program Plan.
U.S. Department of Energy

The GTO Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP), building on the findings of the GeoVision analysis, outlines a 5-year plan of activities GTO will pursue to support the growth and long-term contribution of geothermal energy to the U.S. electricity grid and American homes and buildings.

The MYPP outlines GTO’s vision and mission and presents a high-level technology plan for key areas of GTO research starting in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 and running through the end of FY 2026. This research plan supports GTO’s contributions toward the opportunities outlined in the GeoVision analysis.

 GTO considers the key findings of the GeoVision analysis to be clear evidence of geothermal energy’s role as a critical enabling technology in the nation’s aggressive, zero-carbon energy transformation. Thus, GTO has adopted the following Strategic Goals to reach geothermal energy’s full potential:

  • Strategic Goal 1: Drive toward a carbon-free electricity grid by supplying 60 gigawatts (GW) of EGS and hydrothermal resource deployment by 2050.
  • Strategic Goal 2: Decarbonize building heating and cooling loads by capturing the economic potential for 17,500 GDH installations and by installing GHPs in 28 million households nationwide by 2050.
  • Strategic Goal 3: Deliver economic, environmental, and social justice advancements through increased geothermal technology deployment.

Read the full executive summary

The Opportunities for Geothermal Energy

Geothermal Energy’s Role in Addressing the Climate Crisis
By 2050, deployment of carbon-free geothermal energy can help address the climate change crisis.
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The Geothermal Technologies Office’s Vision, Mission, Strategic Goals, and Research Areas
GTO’s vision is a vibrant domestic geothermal sector that contributes to a carbon pollution-free electric sector by 2035 and a net-zero emission economy by 2050 while providing economic opportunities and environmental benefits for all Americans.
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How the Geothermal Technologies Office Organizes Around Key Research and Deployment Focuses
GTO focuses on reducing geothermal development costs and risks by researching and advancing innovative technologies that address exploration and operational challenges
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Geothermal Technologies Office Technology Plan

Exploration and Characterization
The high costs and risks associated with geothermal exploration are a major barrier to expanded development of both conventional hydrothermal and EGS resources.
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Subsurface Accessibility
Subsurface access through drilled and completed wells is required for all forms of geothermal energy exploration, characterization, and development.
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Subsurface Enhancement and Sustainability
Achieving aggressive EGS and hydrothermal resource deployment will require improving sub-economic naturally occurring hydrothermal systems or developing fully engineered geothermal reservoirs.
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Resource Maximization
Geothermal resources contribute toward U.S. grid reliability, resilience, and security; supporting development of a robust domestic clean energy manufacturing supply chain; and providing effective alternatives to grid-dependent heating and cooling as...
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Data, Modeling, and Analysis
Data underpin RD&D conducted across all GTO MYPP Research Areas. Ensuring the quality and quantity of such data is critical to support effective data dissemination in DOE-developed technology and cost models, conduct strategic analyses that identify...
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Geothermal Integration and Awareness
Each of GTO’s subprograms focuses on a distinct aspect of geothermal energy and addresses challenges unique to those aspects; however, several additional GTO focus areas cut across multiple subprograms.
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Program Evaluations

GTO takes an active approach to consistently assessing program activities and effectiveness. GTO’s program evaluation activities ensure progress toward DOE, EERE, and GTO goals, while also ensuring effective stewardship of DOE investments and taxpayer dollars. GTO engages in informal and ongoing program evaluation through staff meetings, project check-in calls, brainstorming discussions, and other activities. In addition, GTO adheres to EERE guidelines for formal evaluations. These EERE guidelines are founded in two key objectives:

  1. To assess whether planned technical goals were met and commercialization and market results achieved
  2. To identify opportunities to make continuous improvements in programs in order to effectively and efficiently manage public investments.
     
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Program Evaluation Activities
Program evaluation is a core GTO function. Regular evaluation activities help ensure progress toward research objectives, alignment with DOE and EERE goals, and effective public investment. Program evaluation activities also support GTO budget planning...
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Merit Review and Competitive Project Selection
GTO-funded research projects that are submitted through an open and competitive proposal process undergo a comprehensive independent merit review by technology experts from industry, academia, and government. The application process may include...
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Ongoing Project and Portfolio Assessments
In addition to being subject to merit review and regular check-ins, GTO-funded projects are evaluated throughout execution. In-progress reviews include state-gate reviews, go/no-go decisions, GPRA targets, and quarterly project milestones.
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Peer Review
In adherence with EERE guidance, GTO uses an external peer review process to assess the performance of research activities and GTO as a whole. The peer review process may include a combination of technology area peer reviews, individual project peer...
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Impact Evaluations
In some cases, GTO uses impact evaluations conducted by independent external experts to quantify research-attributed outcomes for geothermal. As defined by EERE, such outcomes may include economic performance (e.g., return on investment), knowledge...
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Multi-Year Program Plan Updates
The results of evaluation activities can play an important role in helping GTO determine whether its investments are achieving strategic goals as well as leading to impactful energy, economic, environmental, and energy security benefits. While the MYPP...
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References

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Hackett, L., Blankenship, D., Robertson-Tait, A. (2020). “Analysis of Drilling Performance Using PDC Bits, Fallon FORGE Well 21-31.” 45th Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering Proceedings; February 10-12, 2020, Stanford, California. SGP-TR-216. Albuquerque, NM: Sandia National Laboratories; and Richmond, CA: GeothermEx, Inc., A Schlumberger Company. Accessed October 6, 2020: https://pangea.stanford.edu/ERE/db/GeoConf/papers/SGW/2020/Hackett.pdf.

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Lund, J. and Toth, A. (2020). “Direct Utilization of Geothermal Energy 2020 Worldwide Review.” World Geothermal Congress; April 26–May 2, 2020, Reykjavik, Iceland. WGC01018. Klamath Falls, OR: Oregon Institute of Technology; and Miskolc, Hungary: Ana-Geo Ltd. Accessed October 5, 2020: https://www.geothermal-energy.org/pdf/IGAstandard/WGC/2020/01018.pdf.

McCabe, K., Beckers, K., Young, K., Blair, N. (2019). GeoVision Analysis Supporting Task Force Report: Thermal Applications. NREL/TP-6A20-71715. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Accessed November 22, 2021: https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy19osti/71715.pdf.

Millstein, D., McCall, J., Macknick, J., Nicholson, S., Keyser, D., Jeong, S., and Heath, G. (2019). GeoVision Analysis Supporting Task Force Report: Impacts – The Employment Opportunities, Water Impacts, Emission Reductions, and Air Quality Improvements of Achieving High Penetrations of Geothermal Power in the United States. Berkeley, CA and Golden, CO: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory. NREL/TP-6A20-71933. Accessed February 9, 2021: https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy19osti/71933.pdf.

Simmons, S., Kirby, S., Verplanck, P., Kelley, K. (2018). “Strategic and Critical Elements in Produced Geothermal Fluids from Nevada and Utah” 43rd Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering Proceedings; February 12-14, 2018, Stanford, California. SGP-TR-213. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah, and Salt Lake City, UT/Denver, CO: United States Geological Survey. Accessed October 6, 2020: https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1433889.

Snyder, D., Beckers, K., and Young, K. (2017). “Update on Geothermal Direct-Use Installations in the United States”. 42nd Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering Proceedings; February 13-15, 2017, Stanford, California. SGP-TR-212. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Accessed February 8, 2021: https://pangea.stanford.edu/ERE/pdf/IGAstandard/SGW/2017/Snyder.pdf.

Stringfellow, W., Dobson, P. (2020). Retrospective on Recent DOE-Funded Studies Concerning the Extraction of Rare Earth Elements & Lithium from Geothermal Brines. Berkeley, CA. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. LBNL-2001359. Accessed February, 25, 2021. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1667374.

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News

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Rapid acceleration in the advancement and deployment of geothermal technology is critical to address the climate crisis and ensure a clean energy future. Today, the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) released its Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP)...
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