US Government Announces $74 Million for Enhanced Geothermal Systems
The initiative will provide funding for research and development of Enhanced Geothermal Systems, an important step toward achieving President Biden’s net-zero emissions goal by 2050.
The Biden-Harris Administration has announced $74 million dedicated to developing Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). The focus of this investment is to support clean energy sources and create jobs in the renewable energy industry. This investment is part of the American Jobs Plan, a multi-trillion-dollar proposal focusing on infrastructure, clean energy, and job creation. The EGS initiative will fund projects to stimulate research and development for geothermal systems, which are seen as an important component toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
This investment continues a previous commitment by the Obama Administration to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels and combat climate change. EGS has the potential to provide a clean, renewable, and domestic source of energy that can help meet our electricity needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The $74 million funding will seed research and development activities at national laboratories, universities, and private-sector organizations across the country. This work will help improve understanding of how to create or enhance geothermal reservoirs, identify promising new technologies for developing EGS resources, and reduce the costs of producing electricity from geothermal energy.
EGS is a new type of geothermal energy technology that has the potential to significantly expand the geographic areas where geothermal energy can be economically developed. EGS involves creating or enhancing hydrothermal circulation systems in hot, dry rock formations by artificially injecting water and other fluids into the rock. The heat from the hot rocks then converts the water and other fluids into steam or hot water, generating electricity or providing other thermal energy services.
EGS offers several potential benefits over traditional geothermal systems.
- The technology can tap into vast reserves of heat energy that are otherwise inaccessible, providing a sustainable, carbon-free power source. In addition, EGS plants can be built in various locations and sizes, making them ideal for use in urban areas.
- EGS technology is also relatively flexible, allowing for using different heat exchangers and other components. This flexibility means that EGS plants can be customized to meet the specific needs of each site.
- Unlike wind or solar, EGS plants have the potential to generate electricity around the clock, providing a reliable source of power even when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.
- Finally, unlike nuclear power generation, the environmental risk is very low. There is no spent nuclear fuel to dispose of and no risk of a toxic plume.
This investment will support R&D efforts to improve drilling and reservoir stimulation techniques and test new EGS technologies at demonstration projects around the country. If successful, EGS could provide a cleaner, more sustainable, and cost-effective way to develop domestic renewable energy sources.
While EGS is very promising, there are some drawbacks. It requires a large amount of water for operation, which may be an issue in arid or drought-prone areas. The injection of water into the bedrock could potentially induce seismic activity; however, this has not been conclusively shown and would likely only be an issue in highly seismically active areas.
This is an exciting step forward for the renewable energy sector. We can all look forward to seeing this investment make a real difference as these systems become more widely available. With continued government commitment and support, the United States could soon be on its way to unlocking a new world of clean, green energy.