The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $165 million to expand US geothermal energy deployment. The Geothermal Energy from Oil and Gas Demonstrated Engineering (GEODE) initiative (DE-FOA-0002632) solicits an administrator to establish and lead a consortium that will facilitate collaborative research, development, and demonstration (RD&D). Goals for the consortium are to transfer and adapt technology from oil and gas, generate heat and power from existing oil and gas assets, evaluate and recommend ways to address regulatory and permitting barriers, and develop opportunities in the geothermal sector for the skilled oil and gas workforce.
The ultimate objective is to expand domestic geothermal deployment significantly. The FOA will provide $10 million to form the consortium of experts to develop a roadmap for addressing technology and knowledge gaps in geothermal energy. DOE will then use that roadmap to fund up to an additional $155 million in research to address those gaps.
US individuals or entities can apply as the GEODE consortium administrator. The administrator will need to be capable of executing numerous activities, including:
Establishing a clear structure and methodology for initiating and executing a research agenda, as defined by the consortium members and DOE;
Managing RD&D efforts in support of consortium priorities;
Attracting and securing consortium membership of and collaboration among key industry partners in both the geothermal and oil and gas industries; and
Providing strong organizational leadership across technical disciplines and establishing a robust model to leverage RD&D expertise and non-DOE funding (if feasible) to enhance commercialization opportunities.
Only a small portion of the US geothermal resource has been developed due to unique challenges associated with subsurface environments, along with process issues of geothermal projects, such as long permitting timelines.
The oil and gas and geothermal industries have numerous similarities that provide new opportunities for geothermal expansion—from advances in drilling and well construction to co-production possibilities in existing oil and gas basins. Accessing the expertise, technologies, and experience of the larger domestic oil and gas industry can help overcome barriers and encourage private investment. These advances and access to capital can help the country realize the exponential growth potential of geothermal energy.
Through industry collaboration, geothermal deployment can expand at least 60 gigawatts of clean, reliable electricity-generating capacity, according to the DOE.
GEODE Facets. DOE expects that GEODE will be a 5-year effort, with the consortium issuing competitive solicitations for research activities beginning in year two. These competitive solicitations will advance the goals of the initiative by conducting research simultaneously in four interrelated focus areas, called “Facets.”
Facet 1: Technology Transfer and R&D. In this facet, the consortium will examine the technology and workflow needs of the geothermal industry and catalogue the gaps between geothermal and oil and gas in these areas. This facet will identify pathways that incorporate existing oil and gas technologies and methodologies into geothermal, and establish priorities for the most consequential gaps.
Facet 2: Demonstrations and Deployment. This facet seeks to overcome barriers to evaluating and using geothermal resources currently accessed by oil and gas infrastructure. The consortium should achieve this through numerous pathways, including better data availability, resource and engineering assessments, and demonstration projects that show the utility and commercial viability of producing geothermal heat and electricity from existing subsurface infrastructure.
Facet 3: Analysis and Regulatory Barriers. In this facet, the consortium will identify and evaluate non-technical barriers to expanding the oil and gas industry into the geothermal space.
Facet 4: Workforce and Communications. Consortium activities in this facet will include assessing future geothermal workforce needs and potential gaps, and determining the education and professional experiences needed to fill those gaps. The consortium will also identify better ways to communicate about geothermal energy.