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DoE invests US$84m in geothermal energy

The US Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Steven Chu has announced the release of two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for up to US$84 million to support the development of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).

According to DoE, enhanced geothermal systems offer the potential to extend geothermal resources to larger areas of the western USA, as well as into new geographic areas of the country.

“President Obama has laid out an ambitious agenda to put millions of people to work by investing in clean energy technology like geothermal energy,” says Secretary Chu.

Conventional geothermal energy systems must be located near easily-accessible geothermal water resources, limiting its nationwide use. Enhanced geothermal systems technology would allow power generation in a broad variety of geographic locations as it makes use of available geothermal resources to heat engineered reservoirs, which can then be tapped to produce electricity.

The FOAs will explore two specific areas: component research and development/analysis; and support for enhanced geothermal systems demonstration projects.

The first FOA seeks advanced technology to address aspects of engineered geothermal reservoir creation, management, and utilisation. DoE anticipates making 20-30 awards for a total value of up to US$35m under this FOA, based on annual appropriations. Proposals will be evaluated based on their applicability to the programme’s multi-year research, development, and demonstration plan; level of technical innovation; and ability to introduce new technologies into the marketplace. Research teams comprised of academia, industry, or both are expected to apply.

The second FOA seeks domestic projects in a variety of geologic formations that will quantitatively demonstrate and validate reservoir creation techniques that sustain sufficient fluid flow and heat extraction rates for 5-7 years and that produce at least 5 MWe per year per project. DoE anticipates making 5-10 awards under this announcement for up to US$49m, based on annual appropriations. Applicants eligible to apply include institutions of higher education, non-profit entities, for-profit private entities, state/local governments, and Indian tribes.

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