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1) DOE Launches $84 Million Program to Demonstrate Enhanced Geothermal Energy Systems (4/19)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today issued a request for information (RFI) to support $84 million in enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) pilot demonstration projects included in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The legislation authorizes DOE to support four competitively selected pilot projects that demonstrate EGS in different types of geology. The demonstration projects will provide valuable information about EGS in the field and help spur further growth of geothermal energy—which has the potential to be a critical source of abundant, always-available zero-carbon energy and an opportunity for fossil communities to maintain economic stability by transitioning to producing clean energy. These demonstration projects could help advance DOE’s goals to deploy more than 60 gigawatts (GW) of geothermal electricity-generating capacity by 2050—resulting in clean, reliable power for 129 million American homes and businesses, and contributing to President Biden’s goals for a net-zero emissions economy.

“The U.S. has incredible, untapped geothermal potential beneath our very feet, which can be harnessed to meet our energy demands with a round-the-clock, clean renewable resource available across the country,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Investments within President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are allowing us to incentivize access to that resource nationwide, while helping fossil communities and workers leverage existing infrastructure and skills to seamlessly transition to producing clean energy.”

EGS projects can significantly increase geothermal energy deployment throughout the United States in both the electric and non-electric sectors. Substantial and sustained investment, including in technology development and demonstrations, is vital to ensure that the country can utilize the untapped potential of EGS. electricity-generating capacity alone by 2050. That’s the equivalent of approximately 8% of projected U.S. electricity-generating capacity.

Accessing geothermal resources for energy production requires fluid to flow through openings in rocks, thus facilitating recovery of heat energy that is usually produced through hot water or steam. EGS projects use manmade reservoirs to enable heat recovery for energy generation in areas where geothermal resources exist but cannot be accessed using conventional methods.  

The RFI solicits feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on demonstration project attributes and outcomes that will most likely lead to successful EGS deployment in the future. DOE is also seeking suggestions for the possible structure of the demonstration projects, including how DOE’s investments can be most impactful in promoting workforce development, and environmental and energy justice through the EGS Pilot Demonstrations Program.  
2) BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE LAW (BIL) - Request for Information (RFI) - 2022 Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) Pilot Demonstrations (4/18)

This is a Request for Information (RFI) issued by the U.S. Department of Energy on behalf of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO). The intent of this RFI is to obtain feedback on Section 41007 (a) of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which authorizes activities under section 615(d) (Enhanced Geothermal Systems Demonstrations) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 17194(d)). Specifically, this RFI seeks input on: 1. Section 41007 (a) Enhanced Geothermal Systems Pilot Demonstrations Structure and Implementation Strategy and Requirements, 2. Employment: Expanding Union Jobs and Effective Workforce Development, 3. Equity, Environmental and Energy Justice (EEEJ) Priorities, and 4. Build America, Buy American Requirements. Information collected from this RFI will be used by DOE for planning purposes to develop the EGS Pilot Demonstrations FOA. The information collected will not be published.

Geothermal energy is a renewable and diverse solution for the United States—providing reliable and flexible electricity generation and delivering unique technology solutions to America’s heating and cooling demands. Geothermal resources can be found nationwide, are “always on,” and represent vast domestic energy potential; however, only a fraction of this potential has been realized due to technical and non-technical barriers that constrain industry growth. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Geothermal Technologies Office’s (GTO) recent GeoVision report concludes that with technology improvements, especially in areas relevant to enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), geothermal power generation could increase 26-fold from today, representing 60 gigawatts-electric (GWe) by 2050, providing significant transition jobs for the same skilled workers currently engaged in fossil fuel pipeline activities.

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are engineered geothermal reservoirs, created where there is hot rock (175-300+°C), but little to no natural permeability and/or fluid saturation. During EGS development, subsurface permeability is enhanced via safe, well-engineered stimulation processes that re-open preexisting fractures, create new ones, or a combination of both. These open conduits increase permeability and allow fluid to circulate throughout the hot rock. The fluid transports the otherwise stranded heat to the surface where clean, renewable electricity can be generated with current power generation technologies.

Relative to other geothermal resources, EGS have the potential to provide the most growth in the electric sector, and in the GeoVision scenarios, support noteworthy growth within the non-electric sector for district heating and other direct-use applications. Without significant and sustained investment in EGS technology development and demonstrations to refine our ability to access and develop these resources, however, the 60 GWe target will not be achieved.
RFI notice: https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/Default.aspx#FoaId7ede9077-16d3-4b9b-aab9-8fe3396d1351  
RFI: https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/FileContent.aspx?FileID=29f8b2df-dd7c-4bf1-ab71-0a28dc410b65

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