Up to $78 million is set to be invested in the development and demonstration of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) technology over the next four years under a funding programme led by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

The DOE is to invest up to $43.1 million in 21 projects that aim to help prove the technical feasibility of EGS technology. GE, Baker-Hughes, Ormat, Schlumberger and several academic institutions are among the recipients of the funding.

Increased use of geothermal resources is part of the USA’s plan to improve energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The recipients of the funding will cost-share in the projects, bringing the total investments up to $78 million.

EGS is an advanced geothermal energy technology that could provide large-scale baseload renewable power. The funding awards – 13 of which are to first-time recipients – cover two topic areas: component technologies and system demonstrations.

“With these awards, we are growing our geothermal community to include the technical expertise of our valued national laboratories, innovative industry partners and the very best of academia,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy Steve Chalk. “This robust team will help us meet our aggressive departmental goal to prove the technical feasibility of Enhanced Geothermal Systems by 2015.”

In the component technologies research and development sector, the DOE has announced 17 awards that will address aspects of engineered reservoir creation, management and utilization at temperatures of up to 300°C and depths of up to 10 000 m. Four recipients have been selected in the systems demonstration category, which aims to test and validate techniques for improving the productivity of wells, and which could result in the construction of 400 MWe of new capacity in the next five years.

The DOE will invest up to $19.1 million over four years in component technologies R&D, and up to $24 million in system demonstrations.