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DOE Announces Funding Opportunities in Geothermal Energy (posted 3/18/09)

March 18, 2009
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The first FOA seeks advanced technology to address aspects of engineered geothermal reservoir creation, management and utilization.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu recently announced the release of two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for up to $84 million to support the development of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). Geothermal energy technologies use energy from the earth to heat buildings and generate electricity. Enhanced geothermal systems offer the potential to extend geothermal resources to larger areas of the western U.S., as well as into new geographic areas of the entire country. These projects will help support the administration’s efforts to invest in clean energy technologies, create millions of new jobs, end our addiction to foreign oil and address climate change.

“President Obama has laid out an ambitious agenda to put millions of people to work by investing in clean energy technology like geothermal energy,” said Chu. “The administration is committed to funding important research like this to transform the way we use and produce energy and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”

Conventional geothermal energy systems must be located near easily accessible geothermal water resources, limiting its nationwide use. EGS technology would allow power generation in a broad variety of geographic locations. EGS makes use of available geothermal resources to heat engineered reservoirs, which can then be tapped to produce electricity.

The FOAs will explore two specific areas: component research and development/analysis; and support for EGS demonstration projects. The first FOA seeks advanced technology to address important aspects of engineered geothermal reservoir creation, management and utilization. The DOE anticipates making 20 to 30 awards for a total value of up to $35 million under this FOA, based on annual appropriations. Proposals will be evaluated based on their applicability to the program’s multi-year research, development and demonstration plan; level of technical innovation; and ability to introduce new technologies into the marketplace. Research teams comprised of academia, industry or both are expected to apply.

In addition, the DOE will continue its partnership with the geothermal community to support field demonstrations of EGS technologies. The second FOA seeks domestic projects in a variety of geologic formations that will quantitatively demonstrate and validate reservoir creation techniques that sustain sufficient fluid flow and heat extraction rates for 5-7 years and that produce at least 5 MWe per year per project. The DOE anticipates making five to 10 awards under this announcement for up to $49 million, based on annual appropriations. Applicants eligible to apply include institutions of higher education, non-profit entities, for-profit private entities, state/local governments and Indian tribes.

For each of the Financial Opportunity Announcements, DOE and non-DOE federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), national laboratories, and federal agencies will be allowed as subcontractors only with any of the previously mentioned entities. Details for both FOAs can be found at www.grants.gov.

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