Monday, April 23, 2018

USA: Call for Rejection of RD&D Budget Cuts for Geothermal Technologies

Federal Energy RD&D: Building on Momentum in Fiscal Year 2019 (Information Technology & Innovation Foundation)

In this report, we first describe the key role of the federal government in the U.S. energy innovation system. We then provide a high-level overview of both DOE’s overall budget and its RD&D budget. The bulk of the report drills down into the programs and subprograms that make up DOE’s RD&D budget, detailing what would be put at risk by the administration’s proposal, and opportunities that might be realized through its expansion. The following is an excerpt from the sub-report on Federal Energy R&D: Geothermal Technologies:

In addition to the current U.S. installed capacity of geothermal energy of over 3.8
gigawatts (GW), there is a vast source of untapped energy just waiting to be realized: an estimated 30 GW of hydrothermal plus more than 100 GW of geothermal energy through EGS. The geothermal industry operates in a harsh subsurface environment in which unique technical and operational challenges must be overcome to realize this potential.

Foremost among these challenges is the resources essentially being “out of sight” at a depth of anywhere from two to five kilometers, thus requiring new exploration technologies and tools to reduce the near-term cost and risk of development. DOE has set an ambitious goal of reducing the cost of electricity from newly developed geothermal systems from 22.4 cents per kilowatt-hour ($0.224/kWh) in 2014 to $0.06/kWh by 2030. Meeting this target (for both hydrothermal and EGS resources) requires R&D to harness lower-temperature
resources more effectively, develop improved methods to stimulate new EGS resources, and characterize and model subsurface stress and other reservoir properties. Reductions in R&D funding threaten to delay or even derail the progress DOE has already made toward these targets.