Geothermal energy, a clean, renewable source of energy produced by the heat of the earth, provides about 6 percent of California’s total power. That number could be much higher if associated costs were lower. Now scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have launched two California Energy Commission-funded projects aimed at making geothermal energy more cost-effective to deploy and operate.

The first project, led by Kurt Nihei of the Energy Geosciences Division will test deployment of a dense array of seismic sensors to improve the ability to image where and how fluids are moving underground. The second project, led by Jonny Rutqvist of the Energy Geosciences Division will develop and apply modeling tools to enable geothermal plants to safely run in flexible (or variable) production mode, allowing for better integration with other renewable energy sources. The California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program has awarded Berkeley Lab a total of $2.7 million for the two projects.

Read more from the Berkeley Lab News Center (March 1, 2017)