Department of Energy announces $60M investment into essentially endless source of energy: 'These projects will help us advance'

Department of Energy announces $60M investment into essentially endless source of energy: 'These projects will help us advance'

The U.S. Department of Energy is investing $60 million to demonstrate the efficacy and scalability of enhanced geothermal systems to help tap into the heat trapped underground, which can be used as clean, renewable energy.

The agency selected three projects to receive the funds — Chevron New Energies, Fervo Energy, and Mazama Energy.

Chevron's pilot project will utilize new drilling and stimulation techniques to access this heat energy near a geothermal field in California's Sonoma County. Fervo will work within Utah's Milford Renewable Energy Corridor and adjacent the DOE's Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) field laboratory with an aim to produce at least 8 megawatts of power from each of three wells. Meanwhile, Mazama aims to advance the science needed to operate in extremely hot conditions.

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According to the DOE, geothermal resources currently provide about four gigawatts of electricity in the United States but have the potential to contribute 90 gigawatts to the U.S. grid by 2050. That's enough to power more than 65 million homes and will help the country reach its goal of a carbon-free grid by 2035. Geothermal can also be used to help heat homes.

More renewable, clean energy is a win for communities, as traditional energy sources like natural gas and coal pollute our air. This can lead to severe health impacts like early death, heart attacks, respiratory disorders, stroke, and asthma, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

They also contribute to the overheating of our planet, which will have detrimental consequences for communities as higher temperatures supercharge many natural disasters, making them more frequent and severe.

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Expanding geothermal energy will also help create domestic jobs and deliver more cost-effective and reliable energy, according to the U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

Across the globe, researchers are already making exciting advances in geothermal. For instance, scientists in Iceland may soon draw this power source from the world's first tunnel to a magma chamber. Plus, one tech company is exploring the potential to tap into geothermal energy under the sea in places where new ocean crust forms after tectonic plates shift away from one another.

Granholm said the new funding for geothermal energy projects will help the country realize its full potential for what she called the "heat beneath our feet."

"These projects will help us advance geothermal power, including into regions of the country where this renewable resource has never before been used," she stated in a press release.

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