The U.S. Department of Energy will seek applications for funding for the research, development, and demonstration of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), an advanced geothermal technology that drills deep wells into hot rocks, fractures them, and circulates a fluid through the fractures to extract heat.
EGS technologies can be used to create new geothermal reservoirs or to stimulate existing geothermal reservoirs that are underperforming. The DOE says it will offer up to $90 million over four years, of which $40 million will go toward research and development projects for the technologies needed to commercialize EGS, and $50 million toward demonstration projects that stimulate existing unproductive geothermal reservoirs.
According to a recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a reasonable R&D investment in these technologies could create the opportunity to develop 100,000 megawatts of geothermal power in the United States by 2050, an amount equal to 20 percent of the current U.S. generating capacity.
Under the funding guidelines, R&D projects must carry a minimum 20 percent cost share and demonstrations will require up to a 50 percent cost share, depending on the phase of the award. The funding opportunity is open to industry and academia, and the DOE anticipates selecting up to 26 awardees, including five to 20 R&D projects and two to six demonstration projects. Applications are due by August 12.