Geothermal 2021 WRAPPED

Geothermal 2021 WRAPPED

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Geothermal Technologies Office


December 15, 2021

Drill Down 6.28

Geothermal 2021 WRAPPED

Estimated read time: 9 minutes 

Director’s Note: We’re not the first to say it but it bears repeating—2021 has been an unprecedented year and with that comes reflection. With our work to help the Biden-Harris Administration achieve its ambitious climate goals while simultaneously furthering geothermal R&D, we have a lot to be proud of. In partnership with you, the geothermal community, we achieved great thingsfrom the Utah Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) drilling successes, to the highly anticipated 2021 Geothermal Market Report, to the launch of the GeoFlight initiative and engaging with students in the 2021 Geothermal Collegiate Competition (GCC). It is truly a privilege to work with our partners and colleagues at the national laboratories, academia, industry, and other federal agencies as we blaze new trails into a clean energy frontier.  

We wish each of you a healthy and happy new year and look forward to more collaboration in 2022. In the new year, be on the lookout for new funding opportunities, pending appropriations; competitions; prizes; and events as we work toward a 100% clean energy economy by 2050. Our office received $84 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help us deploy the clean energy technologies that can deliver affordable energy to ALL Americans. Read the fact sheet to unpack the key implications for DOE and learn how the bill will help the United States continue to deliver reliable, clean, and affordable power for a clean energy future.

Riddle me this: What do you get when you mix sulfur, tungsten, and silver? 

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2021 Successes

The Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) is highlighting our accomplishments from 2021including advancements in geothermal technologies, newly available data, and prize and project successes. 

GTO’s largest initiative, FORGE, is quite literally breaking ground. This year alone, the Utah FORGE team drilled three new wells 60 days ahead of schedule! Watch a video to learn about the success of the first deep deviated well. 


Digging for newer, cleaner solutions: WVU-led team tapped to explore geothermal energy. West Virginia University received more than $7 million in funding from GTO to drill an exploratory well that builds on a previously conducted feasibility study exploring year-round direct use heating and cooling on the campus.

Congratulations to the 2021 Geothermal Manufacturing Prize Winners. Ten semifinalist teams won $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in technical support vouchers. These teams have moved on to the Make! contest, where they’ll create a prototype and compete for part of the $750,000 prize pool.

GTO and NREL release the 2021 Geothermal Market Report. This report presents an overview of the current state of U.S. geothermal power generation and commercial district heating systems, as well as market-wide trends in geothermal technologies and policy.


Congratulations to the 2021 GCC WinnersA team comprised of students from the University of North Dakota and Reykjavik University won the first-place prize for their prospectus on gas well recompletion for geothermal district energy in Mandaree, North Dakota. The project proposed generating heat, food, and jobs through integration of a direct-heated greenhouse. Judges praised the team for their exhaustive evaluation of potential for geothermal direct heat using existing oil and gas wells. placeholder text.

GTO Awards $200,000 to Small Geothermal Business. Greenpath Systems LLC received funding to develop an innovative way of using geopolymer grouts enhanced by nano-material fillers to be used in the completion of subsurface wells for geothermal/ground source heat pump that will help reduce the carbon footprint of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.

Utah FORGE Manages First Funding Opportunity for FORGE R&D. Through the Utah FORGE initiative, 17 projects will receive funding for cutting-edge, domestic, and carbon-free geothermal projects with the potential to supply power to millions of homes in the United States. All contracts will be finalized soon, with work beginning next year.


Lithium Extraction from Geothermal Brines Prize- Phase 1 Semifinalists Announced. Fifteen semifinalists moved to the next phase of the Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize competition to advance technologies and techniques to support direct lithium extraction from geothermal brines, a byproduct of geothermal power plants.

USGS and GTO Partner to Seek Hidden Geothermal Systems in Imperial Valley, California. The GeoFlight: Salton Trough initiative, a joint effort with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), kicked off in the fall of 2021. The initiative uses low-flying aircraft to actively capture airborne magnetic and radiometric data that will help identify hidden geothermal systems in the geothermally active Salton Sea area.


Last Chance: Direct Air Capture Funding Opportunity 

In collaboration with GTO and the Office of Nuclear Energy, the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management announced a funding opportunity to further direct air capture technologies that remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. Industry decarbonization and carbon dioxide removal are essential to meet the Biden Administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Responses are due Dec. 22.  

New GTO SBIR Funding Opportunity 

DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs have released the Phase 1, Release 2 funding opportunity announcement. GTO is soliciting applications from small businesses to develop equitable and inclusive innovated technology solutions for current and future energy challenges and needs. Letters of intent are due by Jan. 3, 2022, and applications are due by Feb. 22, 2022. For more information, visit the SBIR/STTR website.

Karl W. Boer Medals

Are you a renewable energy pioneer? The University of Delaware is seeking nominations for the 2022 Karl W. Boer Medals to recognize pioneering advancements in renewable energy. This biannual award to “a world-renowned individual” carries a $100,000 unrestricted prize, and a new award to a mid-career scientist making “significant contributions with a promise for enduring impact” includes a $25,000 unrestricted prize. Nominations are due by Jan. 15, 2022, on the award website.

Prizes and Competitions: For Students, Professors, and Universities

DOE works with college and graduate students, professors, industry, national laboratories, and other federal agencies to conduct R&D activities through competitions and prizes. The following opportunities are open for submission.

  • The first required submission for the 2022 GCC is now Feb. 17, 2022; the final deadline remains April 14, 2022. This competition encourages college students to design geothermal heating and cooling systems as a way to gain real world experience that will prepare them to join the clean energy workforce. Learn more and apply on the competition website.
  • The EnergyTech University Prize is designed to challenge multidisciplinary student teams to develop and present a business plan that leverages laboratory-developed and other high-potential energy technologies. Sign up to compete by Jan. 31, 2022, on the competition website.

Upcoming Events and Webinars


Join a webinar on Dec. 17 to learn more about a new funding opportunity from the SBIR and STTR programs, which support U.S. small businesses to engage in high-risk, innovative research and technology development with the potential for future commercialization. Registration is required.

GEOPHIRES Training Webinar


Wondering how to use GEOPHIRES, a geothermal techno-economic simulation tool for economic analysis? Or are you a GEOPHIRES pro who could benefit from an expert Q/A? 

Join us at 1 p.m. ET on Dec. 17 to learn the GEOPHIRES basics with Dr. Koenraad Beckers, a Research Engineer with National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). This free webinar will provide an overview of GEOPHIRES, model descriptions, and example files. Dr. Beckers will also give a live demonstration of the software and be available to answer your questions! 

The webinar is open to all Geothermal Collegiate Competition students, register now! 

American-Made Geothermal Manufacturing Prize Make! Contest Announcement 


On Jan. 13, 2022, join GTO and NREL for a virtual announcement of the American-Made Geothermal Manufacturing Prize Make! contest winners. The prize is designed to spur innovation and address manufacturing challenges fundamental to operating in harsh geothermal environments. The announcement follows a demo day where teams will pitch their prototypes to judges and participate in a Q&A session. Registration information will be provided soon, for more information visit the competition website.

In Case You Missed It

Sizing Up the Challenges in Extracting Lithium from Geothermal Brines

Berkeley Lab scientists are assessing the technology landscape for developing a domestic source of lithium to meet rising demand. Currently, there is very little lithium production in the United States, and most lithium is imported. Read more on how the production of geothermal brines in the Salton Sea area can change this.


Virtual Geological Tour of the Utah FORGE Area

Watch a guided geological field tour of Utah FORGE and the surrounding area, where cutting-edge tools are being developed to advance the production of geothermal energy.

Watch Colorado School of Mines Advancements in Geothermal

Watch mining engineers at Colorado School of Mines explain the potential for geothermal and how they are finding answers in big data and artificial intelligence for advancing geothermal energy.

Geothermal Energy Around the Web

What It Will Take to Unleash the Potential of Geothermal Power. With the recently passed infrastructure bill, read how $84 million will be used to develop and test new technologies for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).

To advance geothermal systems, EGS Collab maps the hidden fractures behind a wall of rock. Join the EGS Collab team at the 4100 Level of Sanford Underground Research Facility and home base for state-of-the-art geothermal R&D.

U.S. Looks to Extract Lithium for Batteries from Geothermal Waste. Could waste water from geothermal production be the answer to meeting the growing demand for lithium in the United States? Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power Alejandro Moreno says the Biden Administration is investing $30 million in next-generation technologies to find out.

Trusted Messengers. To achieve large-scale efficiencies, campuses, medical facilities, and other communities are being empowered to invest in district geothermal energy systems, as well as other sources of renewable power. By working together, they can cut costs and reduce emissions.

Milford, Utah Could Become the World’s Next Geothermal Hub. Utah FORGE is working on EGS technology that could enable geothermal power plants to be built anywhere in the world, leading to a nearly unlimited supply of clean, renewable, and affordable energy.

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