While numerous Department of Energy renewable energy incentives programs have focused on solar and wind energy development, recent funding initiatives make it clear that DOE is also looking to stoke additional interest in geothermal energy R&D and innovative energy efficiency technologies.
$70 Million for Geothermal. Geothermal energy taps the hotter temperatures far below the earth’s surface as a source of energy generation. Historically, this form of energy has been available mainly in locations near tectonic plate boundaries, but with better exploration and capture methods, its use could expand dramatically. DOE’s new funding opportunity will allot $70 million over the next three years to support research for technology advancements that accelerate geothermal energy production. The U.S. is a leader in geothermal energy, and the funding is intended to strengthen that position.
Funding opportunities include research on: better exploration and characterization technologies, advanced drilling techniques, reducing the cost of completing geothermal wells, improving injection and production of water in geothermal systems, and optimizing geothermal reservoir creation. These steps are important to overcoming significant current technical, cost, and risk challenges that are holding back wider deployment of geothermal energy development. The DOE press release, and a link to the geothermal solicitation can be found here. The full application submission deadline is July 15, 2011.
$120 Million for Innovative Energy Efficiency Manufacturing Processes and Materials. In a June 24 announcement, President Obama launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, designed to develop “transformational manufacturing technologies and innovative materials that could enable industrial facilities to dramatically increase their energy efficiency.” The $120 million in grant money will be awarded to projects that are “revolutionary in their design or impact” and can be commercialized within five to seven years. DOE is encouraging applicants to work in teams composed of commercial, academic, and research entities, and expects to select 35 to 50 cost-shared projects under this program. Applications are due by August 25, 2011. The funding solicitation can be found at here.