The United States Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm, recently announced a new goal for the Department of Energy (DOE), which is to make enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) a widespread option for renewable energy in the United States by reducing their cost by 90 percent, to $45 per megawatt hour, by the year 2035. The Department of Energy’s Enhanced Geothermal Shot aims to harness the Earth’s practically endless heat resources in order to provide dependable, environmentally friendly electricity to American communities and to enhance chances for the development of a vibrant domestic geothermal sector. Existing heat resources in the United States total more than five terawatts, which is sufficient to fulfil the need for power for the whole planet. Even capturing a tiny portion of this energy may provide affordable electricity to more than 40 million households in the United States. EGS can also enable technology for the broad deployment of geothermal heating and cooling, which will further allow buildings and whole communities to reduce their carbon footprints. If we are successful in implementing the Enhanced Geothermal Shot, we will make significant progress toward President Biden’s objectives of producing 100% carbon pollution-free energy by the year 2035 and generating net-zero emissions throughout the whole economy of the United States by the year 2050.
According to a statement made by the United States Department of Energy (DOE), “the United States has a massive geothermal energy potential sitting just under our feet,” and “this initiative will make it economically feasible to deliver that electricity to American families and companies.” Jennifer M. Granholm is currently serving as the Secretary of Energy.
The Department of Energy is making investments in research and development that will assist the country in realising its full geothermal potential and meeting the objectives of the Enhanced Geothermal Shot. Recent investments include up to $165 million to transfer best practises from the oil and gas industry to advance both enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) and conventional geothermal. These investments include $44 million to help spur innovations for EGS at the DOE’s Frontier Observatory for Geothermal Energy Research (FORGE) field laboratory. In addition to supporting efforts to advance EGS, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act signed into law by President Biden provides funding in the amount of $84 million to support four pilot EGS demonstration projects. These projects will provide valuable information about EGS in a variety of geographies and geological settings.
EGS is a relatively new technology that has the potential to become a driving force behind the expansion of the economy in the United States, particularly in rural areas. The vast majority of geothermal occupations are intrinsically local and relate to well drilling and construction, both of which are required to be carried out by a workforce located inside the country. Because the geothermal sector and workforce are similarly comparable to the oil and gas industry, this presents a chance to transfer trained employees, as well as whole towns and equipment, away from the use of fossil fuels and toward cleaner forms of energy.
The Enhanced Geothermal Shot is the fourth Shot that has been announced as part of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy EarthshotsTM Initiative. This initiative aims to help break through the largest remaining scientific and technological hurdles to addressing the climate issue. Energy Earthshots are designed to support the objective of the Biden-Harris Administration to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050 while both increasing the economy and generating good-paying union jobs. Hydrogen, carbon negative solutions, and long-term energy storage are the primary focuses of the Energy Earthshots that have already been revealed.
Geothermal energy is responsible for producing around 3.7 gigawatts of power in the United States at the moment; however, a significant portion of geothermal energy is inaccessible using the technology that is now available. Unlocking such resources and adding fresh, clean power to the grid may be accomplished via the application of research and innovation to EGS drilling and engineering. To put it more simply, enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) are processes that involve the creation of underground reservoirs by human intervention. This is done by injecting fluid deep underground into naturally heated rocks that, on their own, do not have the fluid flow necessary to bring geothermal energy to the surface.
The EGS resources may be found at depths of at least 4,000 feet below the surface. The conditions are very harsh, including high temperatures, rocks that are hot and abrasive, and an atmosphere that is corrosive, and there are a lot of unknowns. The Enhanced Geothermal Shot is an initiative that aims to address these challenges by aggressively accelerating research, development, and demonstrations in order to gain a better understanding of the subsurface, improve engineering in order to drill more wells faster, and capture more energy with larger wells and power plants.
The Enhanced Geothermal Shot will expand on the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) existing research, development, and demonstration work on EGS, including that which is being done at FORGE in Utah, which is now serving as the flagship location for DOE’s EGS research.
The Department of Energy (DOE) intends to host an Enhanced Geothermal Shot Summit in order to solicit participation from state and local governments, industry, and other stakeholders. The Department of Energy will continue to collaborate with other federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, to achieve the goals of advancing the state of the art and developing the workforce required to support the transition to sustainable energy.