Department of Energy Report Examines Geothermal Energy Potential  

An analysis recently released by the Department of Energy updates the potential of enhanced geothermal systems in the United States. It was prepared by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The report, Enhanced Geothermal Shot Analysis for the Geothermal Technologies Office, was released on Jan. 25.

The United States has more than 5 terawatts of heat resources. The goal of significantly expanding EGS deployment by cutting costs 90 percent to $45 per megawatt-hour by 2035 is ambitious but is achievable with technology advances, according to NREL’s analysis.

The Enhanced Geothermal Shot Analysis builds on DOE’s 2019 GeoVision report that found the potential for 60 gigawatts of geothermal capacity by 2050.

The latest analysis from NREL includes modeling assumptions reflecting recent technology advances and uses updated estimates of EGS resource potential. Those findings indicate that by 2050 the total amount of installed domestic geothermal capacity could reach 90 GW.

Geothermal energy currently generates about 3.7 gigawatts of electricity in the United States.

There is the potential for EGS deployment throughout the U.S. West, as well as in several states east of the Mississippi River, including Mississippi, West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, by 2050, NREL said in its analysis.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law supports EGS with $84 million for four pilot EGS demonstration projects that will provide information about EGS in different geographies and geologies.

DOE’s Office of Science recently announced $200 million for DOE’s national laboratories to conduct Energy Earthshots research, including three EGS topics.