President Barack Obama today committed over $467 million to accelerate development and deployment of geothermal and solar energy resources across the U.S., setting the stage for the creation of clean energy jobs and new technological breakthroughs in the years to come.
The bulk of the funding – $350 million – represents new investment in geothermal technology, far surpassing previous government commitments, while the remaining $117.6 million will help accelerate the widespread deployment of solar technologies throughout the United States. "We have a choice. We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of clean energy,” said President Obama. "We can hand over the jobs of the future to our competitors, or we can confront what they have already recognized as the great opportunity of our time: the nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy. That’s the nation I want America to be."
The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding for solar and geothermal marks a new federal commitment to the advancement of clean energy technologies and green job creation.
The geothermal funds will support geothermal demonstration projects; Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) research and development; innovative exploration techniques; and a National Geothermal Data System, Resource Assessment and Classification System. Unlike solar and wind which are intermittent and need to be stored for use during peak demand periods, geothermal is capable of providing “base load” power, since the energy source (Earth’s heat) is available on a continuous basis.
The $117.6 million in solar funding is aimed at making solar cost-competitive with conventional electricity sources and increasing the competitiveness of U.S. solar technology manufacturers.
"These technologies represent two pieces of a broad energy portfolio that will help us aggressively fight climate change and renew our position as a global leader in clean energy jobs,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
A detailed breakdown of how the funding will be allocated is included below, from the Energy Department press release.
Geothermal Energy Investments ($350 Million)
* Geothermal Demonstration Projects ($140 Million)
Funding will support demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies to advance geothermal energy in new geographic areas, as well as geothermal energy production from oil and natural gas fields, geopressured fields, and low to moderate temperature geothermal resources.
* Enhanced Geothermal Systems Technology Research and Development ($80 Million)
Funding will support research of EGS technology to allow geothermal power generation across the country. Conventional geothermal energy systems must be located near easily-accessible geothermal water resources, limiting its nationwide use. EGS makes use of available heat resources through engineered reservoirs, which can then be tapped to produce electricity. While the long-term goal of EGS is to generate cost competitive clean electricity, enabling research and development is needed to demonstrate the technology’s readiness in the near-term.
* Innovative Exploration Techniques ($100 Million)
Funding will support projects that include exploration, siting, drilling, and characterization of a series of exploration wells utilizing innovative exploration techniques. Exploration of geothermal energy resources can carry a high upfront risk. By investing in and validating innovative exploration technologies and methods, DOE can help reduce the level of upfront risk for the private sector, allowing for increased investment and discovery of new geothermal resources.
* National Geothermal Data System, Resource Assessment, and Classification System ($30 Million)
The long-term success of geothermal energy technologies depends upon a detailed characterization of geothermal energy resources nationwide. In 2008, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) conducted an assessment of high temperature resource potential in the Western United States. To fully leverage new low-temperature, geopressured, co-production, and EGS technologies, DOE will support a nationwide assessment of geothermal resources, working through the USGS and other partners.
Second, DOE will support the development of a nationwide data system to make resource data available to academia, researchers, and the private sector. Finally, DOE will support the development of a geothermal resource classification system for use in determining site potential.
Solar Energy Investments ($117.6 Million)
* Photovoltaic Technology Development ($51.5 Million)
DOE will expand investment in advanced photovoltaic concepts and high impact technologies, with the aim of making solar energy cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity and to strengthen the competitiveness and capabilities of domestic manufacturers.
* Solar Energy Deployment ($40.5 Million)
Projects in this area will focus on non-technical barriers to solar energy deployment, including grid connection, market barriers to solar energy adoption in cities, and the shortage of trained solar energy installers. Combined with new technology development, these deployment activities will help clear the path for wider adoption of solar energy in residential, commercial, and municipal environments.
* Concentrating Solar Power Research and Development ($25.6 Million)
This work will focus on improving the reliability of concentrating solar power technologies and enhancing the capabilities of DOE National Laboratories to provide test and evaluation support to the solar industry.
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