DOE Offers Grants To Advance Geothermal Drilling Speed

The government is offering up to $20 million to test applications that will shorten the time it takes to drill geothermal wells.

Geothermal drilling rig with rainbow
The DOE initiative looks to build upon laboratory learnings and apply those solutions in the field.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has revealed up to $20 million in funding to lower the cost of developing geothermal energy by demonstrating faster drilling technologies to help shorten project timelines. DOE is looking to dramatically lower the cost of geothermal drilling—which can exceed 50% of a project’s total costs.

Projects selected for drilling demonstrations will spur further investment in geothermal projects, which could be a critical source of zero-carbon energy. The initiative advances US President Biden’s goals to support fossil energy communities that are building upon their existing energy infrastructure to drive innovation and economic growth in emerging zero-carbon industries.

“There is incredible, untapped potential to use the heat beneath our feet to meet our energy demands with a renewable source that can be found in all pockets of this country,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Not only is the use of geothermal energy a significant asset for reaching a carbon-free grid by 2035, it can drive the creation of good-paying jobs in energy communities as the country transitions to cleaner, more reliable energy sources.”

The Drilling Demos initiative, led by DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO), builds upon DOE advancements in geothermal drilling technologies that streamline drilling time and improve penetration rates in laboratories. Demonstrations within this latest initiative will accelerate the transfer of geothermal drilling advancements from the laboratory to the marketplace.

GTO seeks applications from drilling services providers, well service companies, research institutions, geothermal operators and developers, and other entities that can provide real-world, immediate solutions to address the goal of increasing the average daily drilling penetration rates for geothermal wells. Entities that control well access and operations—both commercial and government-funded—are encouraged to apply.

The GTO is also compiling a Teaming Partner List to facilitate the formation of new project teams for the Drilling Demos. The list allows organizations who may wish to participate in an application, but do not wish to apply as the prime applicant, to express their interest to potential applicants and to explore potential partners.

Letters of intent are due 4 April, and full applications are due 3 June.