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Geothermal Energy Poised for Big Growth

By NAM News Room

Geothermal energy is generating a renewed buzz—and garnering oil-and-gas interest—following funding boosts, according to POLITICO (subscription).

What’s going on: Advocates of geothermal, a renewable, carbon-free technology that can produce reliable, nonintermittent power using Earth’s heat to generate energy, “say the underground energy source has the potential to supply more than 60 gigawatts of firm, flexible power by 2050—a more than 15-fold jump from the 3.7 GW of capacity it now has in the United States.”

Heeding the call: The Biden administration is urging energy producers to consider incorporating geothermal projects into their work—and many are.

  • “Baker Hughes, one of the largest drilling companies in the world, is expanding its geothermal business and has formed a partnership with Continental Resources and Chesapeake Energy … to test whether they can profitably turn spent natural gas wells into geothermal facilities.”
  • Last month, Chevron Corporation partnered with the Swedish company Baseload Capital to build the next generation of geothermal development technologies.

Financial backing: The funds are in place to support geothermal technologies, too.

  • “The bipartisan infrastructure law authorized $84 million for four enhanced geothermal systems demonstration projects—applications for which are expected to open early next year.”
  • “The Energy Department has also set a target to cut the cost of enhanced geothermal systems—which could enhance existing reservoirs or create new ones—by 90 percent by 2035. And it’s examining the geothermal energy and heat production potential from abandoned oil and gas wells.”

A caveat: Lengthy permitting processes could stymie geothermal’s potential, the Energy Department’s Geothermal Technologies Office Acting Director Lauren Boyd told the publication.

  • “[S]he said that the oil and gas industry has flagged the long permitting timelines that could slow development and the timeline for profitability.”

A bipartisan win: Expanding geothermal energy is in the interest of both Republicans and Democrats, and administrations from both parties have increased funding for it.

The NAM says: “Geothermal energy technologies are another tool in the belt of the ‘all-of-the-above’ energy-economy approach the NAM has long advocated,” said NAM Director of Energy and Resources Policy Chris Morris.

  • “But manufacturers continue to face permitting, licensing and siting challenges that cause delays in deploying cutting-edge, clean technologies and projects. The NAM looks forward to working with lawmakers and the administration to enact policies to achieve the shared goal of emissions reduction.”
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