Biden Administration Announces 90% Cut to Cost of Geothermal Energy by 2035
On Thursday, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Biden Administration’s plan to cut the cost of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) by 90% by 2035 to make them a more widespread and reliable clean energy option. Right now, the US has enough heat resources to power the entire globe (five terawatts of energy), but only uses 3.7 gigawatts of what is currently available -- a minuscule amount compared to solar and wind consumption. Capturing even a fraction of the geothermal resources that are accessible could “affordably power up to 40 million American homes” and allow entire communities to decarbonize.
Grist: How a geothermal breakthrough could transform our energy grid, March 16, 2022.
Why This Matters
Deploying affordable clean energy options, such as geothermal, will significantly aid in Biden’s goals of achieving 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 and net-zero emissions across the US economy by 2050. The financial accessibility of geothermal energy resources will allow for widespread adoption of renewable energies and for communities to transition away from being fossil-fuel dependent.
EGS technologies also have the potential to significantly bolster rural economies since most geothermal jobs are inherently local. The skills needed for the geothermal industry are similar to jobs in the oil and gas industry and provide opportunities to help workers transition smoothly to clean energy.
PBS: Why geothermal energy is being viewed as a viable alternative to fossil fuels, March 25, 2022.
WW0: Creating Jobs While Decarbonizing the US Economy, June 28, 2022.
Accessing Affordable EGS Resources
While the US has vast geothermal resources that can potentially power millions of homes, much of it is inaccessible without the creation of human-made EGS reservoirs. In order to successfully harness geothermal power and make it an affordable option, investments will need to be made for the research and engineering of these reservoirs. In August, the DOE announced that it would be putting up to $44 million toward the innovation of EGS technologies, and Biden’s recently passed infrastructure bill will be added support to these projects. The next steps in launching a widespread EGS grid will be to engage state and local stakeholders to switch from fossil fuel sources to clean energy and ensure the domestic workforce can sustain the industry.
CNBC: This Overlooked Energy Source Could Supply 50% Of Electricity, May 6, 2022.
DOE: US Department of Energy’s Carbon Negative Shot Summit, July 27, 2022.
FRANCE 24: Geothermal energy | A new, green lease of life for old coal mines, May 13, 2022.