Friday, February 28, 2020

Policy: How to Reform Geothermal Policy - Clearpath

Geothermal thermal energy is an underutilized hot resource! (ClearPath)

Clearpath is a member of the GRC Policy Committee

Geothermal energy can be incredibly diverse. Historically, there have been two main ways to harness geothermal resources – through geothermal heat pumps or hydrothermal resources. Geothermal heat pumps are an example of direct-use, which captures the heat from geothermal resources and redirects the energy for beneficial uses such as space heating and cooling, which utilizes the temperature difference between the ambient air and the temperature of the geothermal resource. 

Hydrothermal resources use existing hot water or steam in naturally occurring regions, where the resource is at the Earth’s surface or comes close to the surface. Hydrothermal steam or hot water can also be captured to drive a turbine, similarly to thermal electric power generation or hydropower, generating clean electricity.

Geothermal energy is a clean, renewable resource available in most regions. A recent DOE study, GeoVision, highlighted the potential to combine other energy sector technologies with geothermal energy to tap into regions once thought impossible. These are called enhanced or engineered geothermal systems (EGS), where existing and safe oil and gas technology is utilized to access larger geothermal resources or to create artificial reservoirs through the injection of water in hot rocks.

How to Reform Geothermal Policy
  1. Reorient and bolster geothermal research, development, and demonstrations
  2. Streamline permitting and regulatory requirements to reduce costs and increase installed geothermal capacity.
  3. Improve stakeholder collaboration and knowledge sharing between relevant industries.
  4. Geothermal energy should be incentivized to encourage further investment and development.
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