Monthly eNewsletter from the IADC

IADC Attends DOE Enhanced Geothermal Systems Event

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm pictured with other attendees of the September DOE event

On Thursday, 8 September 2022, IADC attended an event in Houston, TX during which the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new initiative aiming to reduce the cost of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner both spoke at the event. The goal of the DOE’s new Enhanced Geothermal Shot™ program is to dramatically reduce the cost of EGS to $45/megawatt-hour, a 90% reduction, by 2035.

In the DOE’s corresponding media release, Secretary Granholm stated,

“The United States has a vast, geothermal energy resource lying right beneath our feet, and this program will make it economical to bring that power to American households and businesses. DOE’s Enhanced Geothermal Shot will move geothermal technology from research and development to cost-effective commercial adoption, helping energy communities and workers transition to producing clean energy for the future.”

How does EGS work?

According to the DOE, “More than five terawatts of heat resources—enough to meet the electricity needs of the entire world—exist in the United States.” However, only a small fraction of the United States’ vast geothermal resource is accessible in its naturally occurring form. Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are human-made reservoirs that make it possible to harness geothermal energy that is otherwise trapped underground. The process involves injecting fluid into naturally heated rocks, enhancing the size of fluid pathways and increasing permeability, which creates more suitable conditions for bringing energy up to the surface. EGS is a relatively young process, and there are still technology and knowledge gaps that need to be addressed in order to further develop geothermal energy as a more accessible resource.

What is the oil & gas industry’s role?

In late July, the DOE released another announcement stating that it plans to invest up to $165 million in expanding U.S. geothermal energy deployment. The outlined plan would provide $10 million for The Geothermal Energy from Oil and Gas Demonstrated Engineering (GEODE) initiative, which would “form a consortium of experts to develop a roadmap for addressing technology and knowledge gaps in geothermal energy, based on best practices used within the oil and gas industry.” The remaining $155 million would then be utilized to fund research to address those gaps identified in the roadmap. The media release further explains the oil and gas industry’s role:

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—enough to power more than 40 million American homes.