As part of the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to the President’s Climate Action Plan, the Department of Energy announced, on August 31st, $29 million in funding under the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) program for projects awarded to teams at Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) and the University of Utah. The funding will be for each team to fully instrument, characterize and permit candidate sites for an underground laboratory to conduct cutting-edge research on enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). The Sandia team will be working on a site in Fallon, Nevada, and the University of Utah team will be working at a site in Milford, Utah. The announcement kicks off Phase 2 (1–2 years duration) of the program.
Berkeley Lab (LBNL) will join Sandia (the team lead), the University of Nevada at Reno, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Navy Geothermal Program Office, Ormat Technologies Inc., GeothermEx/Schlumberger, and Itasca Consulting Group. The Fallon FORGE Team will begin to prepare the site, located adjacent to the Naval Air Station Fallon starting with environmental studies and preliminary seismic monitoring then to full readiness for testing, data system development, and further characterization.
Mack Kennedy, a staff scientist in the Energy Geosciences Division is the lead point of contact for the LBNL aspect of FORGE. Contributors to date include Kennedy, Ernie Majer, Drew Siler, Pat Dobson, and Eric Sonnenthal. Moving into Phase 2, LBNL will provide expertise from the Energy Geosciences Division core capabilities in subsurface geophysics, hydrogeology, reservoir modeling, and geochemistry.
FORGE is intended to be a dedicated scientific-community facility that will advance subsurface energy science, with a particular focus on geothermal technologies. At this site, scientists and engineers will be able to develop, test, and accelerate breakthroughs in EGS technologies and techniques. Geothermal energy is a clean, consistent, alternative source of power for the American energy consumer. Studying EGS could eventually lead to more than 100 gigawatts (GW) of economically viable electric generating capacity in the continental United States, representing an increase of two orders of magnitude over present geothermal capacity, which currently stands at 3.5 GW.
Additional information on the Fallon FORGE team is available at fallonforge.org.
Read the full announcement from Energy.gov.
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