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U.S. DOE unveils roadmap for next generation of geothermal power

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Energy Global,

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the release of its latest Pathways to Commercial Liftoff report, focusing on the potential of next-generation geothermal power to transform the US energy landscape. ‘Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Next-Generation Geothermal Power,’ marks the ninth instalment in the Liftoff series which launched in March 2023. This report shows how advanced geothermal technology could increase the US’ geothermal energy production to 90 GW or more by 2050, a twentyfold increase. This growth in geothermal energy supports the Biden-Harris Administration's goals of facilitating a carbon-free electricity grid by 2035, while creating thousands of good-paying jobs to boost the clean ener-gy economy.

“The US can lead the clean energy future with continued innovation on next-generation technologies, from harnessing the power of the sun to the heat beneath our feet, and cracking the code to deploy them at scale,” said US Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm. “The newest report in DOE’s commercial liftoff series showcases the enormous potential for geothermal energy and that with strong public-private partnerships we can lower costs for this hot technology to expand access for cleaner, more reliable power to communities across the nation.”

Next-generation geothermal energy represents a significant advancement in harnessing the Earth’s heat to generate power. This innovative approach involves the use of nascent technologies and methods to access and convert geothermal resources into electricity more efficiently and sustainably than ever before. Next-generational geothermal benefits from the long-standing use of geothermal as a power generation technology, and features transferrable technology, supply chains, and workforces from the oil and gas sector.

The release of this liftoff report follows on the heels of DOE’s recent announcement of projects directed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to demonstrate the efficacy and scalability of enhanced geothermal systems. These selections, coupled with incentives for geothermal electricity development through the Inflation Reduction Act, are part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda which includes substantial investment in clean energy technologies.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Next-generation expansion: With the use of next-generation technologies, geothermal power has the potential to expand by more than 20 times from current US installed capacity, contributing 90 GW of clean, firm power nationwide by 2050, and potentially significantly more.
  • Increased job opportunities: The existing oil and gas workforce of more than 300 000 can potentially transition and use their existing skills to advance geothermal power.
  • Sustainable Production: Next-generation geothermal has unique starting advantages that mean it is poised for rapid scale due to highly transferrable and existing technology, supply chains, and workforces.
  • Access to sustainable resources: Next-generation geothermal technology can engineer geothermal resources in ubiquitous hot rock formations, eliminating the need for human-made reservoirs or systems in the subsurface, making heat resources accessible nationwide.
  • Lower Costs: Competitive pricing models can position next-generation geothermal power to be as cost effective as other energy sources.

This Liftoff report supports the goals of DOE’s Enhanced Geothermal ShotTM, part of DOE’s Energy EarthshotsTM Initiative, which aims to unlock Earth’s near-inexhaustible heat resources and bring enhanced geothermal systems to Americans nationwide.



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