BUILDINGS - Smarter Facilities Management


DOE Boosts Development of Innovative Geothermal Technology


U.S. Secretary Steven Chu announced that $20 million would be allocated toward research, development, and demonstration of innovative geothermal technologies that would reduce demand for fossil fuels, create new jobs, and cut down on pollution.

These research projects will demonstrate technical and economic viability of non-conventional geothermal energy technologies in three key areas:

  • Low temperature fluids
  • Geothermal fluids recovered from oil and gas wells
  • Highly pressurized geothermal fluids

The following projects have been selected for award:

Low Temperature Geothermal Fluids

Energent Corporation – Dixie Valley, Nevada - $1,200,000
Energent will demonstrate the innovative features of a geothermal power plant using a scale-resistant heat exchanger design that will allow increased use of low temperature resources. The power plant has the potential to increase power production from the brine flow (the volume of hydrocarbon and water per segment of time that come out of the wellhead) by 40% over current technology.

GreenFire Energy – Springerville, Arizona - $2,000,000
GreenFire Energy will provide field evaluations of a low temperature carbon dioxide-based geothermal electric power generation plant. In Phase I, it will set up and initiate seismic monitoring at an existing CO2 production field, and collect and evaluate existing data. In Phase II, it will test several energy recovery techniques in existing shallow wells and the performance of CO2 as a working fluid.

Modoc Contracting Company – Canby, Modoc County, California - $2,000,000
Modoc proposes to create a complete "cascaded" use of a geothermal resource (from low temperature power generation through several direct-use applications including a direct heating system, greenhouse operation and fish farm) that will demonstrate energy-efficient use of the geothermal fluids.

The company will procure, install, and commission an engineered, scalable, and duplicable generator unit to use the waste heat from an existing geothermal plant. The cascading application will have significant implications for the nearly 1,500 potential low to moderate temperature well sites located within towns and medium-sized cities in the western United States.

Oski Energy, LLC – Susanville, Lassen County, California - $2,000,000
Oski Energy will test an innovative power cycle technology that uses a mixture of ammonia and water as the working fluid. It will deploy novel system design techniques allow optimized, real-time, self-tuning of the power cycle process compensate for variations in the geothermal production fluid and flow rate, as well as changes in ambient temperature that adversely affect power generation.

Geothermal Fluids Produced from Oil and Gas Wells

ElectraTherm, Inc. – Florida Canyon Mine, Nevada- $982,000
ElectraTherm seeks to demonstrate the financial and technical viability of producing electricity from heat coproduced in geothermal brine. ElectraTherm's innovative mobile heat-to-power generator output capacity is expected to be in the 30-70 kw range. The project will result in the optimization of a low-cost, modular, mobile power plant that can be employed on small resources in remote locations.

Highly Pressurized or Geopressured Fluid

Louisiana Geothermal – Cameron Parish, Louisiana- $5,000,000
Louisiana Geothermal seeks to demonstrate that electricity can be produced economically from geopressured resources by validating the significant geopressured geothermal resource base in southern Louisiana and the northern Gulf of Mexico basin. The creation and operation of a power generation facility will supply valuable costing and engineering data for future geothermal projects.

NRG Energy Inc. – Princeton, New Jersey- $5,000,000
NRG Energy will evaluate and characterize a target geothermal reservoir for development of a power plant. NRG seeks to demonstrate and identify viable energy production from geopressured geothermal resources with the potential for cost-effective recovery of heat, kinetic energy, and natural gas.

Generating consistent, low-cost renewable energy with a small environmental impact, geothermal technology is emerging as an effective solution in a new era of green technology and sustainability. 

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