News Release

Release Date: December 05, 2016

NETL Supports DOE Geothermal Technologies Office to FORGE Ahead with Enhanced Geothermal Systems Research


The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) continues to support the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Geothermal Technologies Office in advancing enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) technology as the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) advances into Phase 2. This second phase of FORGE provides up to $29 million in DOE funding for teams from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Utah to perform further research at their proposed sites.

To learn more about enhanced geothermal systems, click to enlarge.

EGS is the new frontier in renewable energy: man-made, electricity-producing geothermal reservoirs that can be created anywhere there is accessible hot rock in the subsurface. DOE envisions FORGE as a dedicated site where scientists and engineers will be able to develop, test, and accelerate breakthroughs in EGS technologies and techniques. The initiative will enable cutting-edge research, drilling, and technology testing, and it will allow scientists to identify a replicable commercial pathway to EGS.

In addition to the site itself, the FORGE effort will include a robust instrumentation, data-collection, and data-dissemination component to capture and share data and activities in real time. The innovative research, coupled with an equally innovative collaboration and management platform to engage all sectors of the subsurface science community, and beyond, is truly a first-of-its-kind endeavor.

The FORGE initiative is divided into three phases, culminating in the implementation of research and development at a single EGS field laboratory. DOE selected five Phase 1 teams to perform technical and logistical tasks to demonstrate their respective site’s viability and the team’s capability to meet FORGE objectives. The teams and field sites selected for Phase 1 were (1) Idaho National Laboratory – Snake River Plain, Idaho; (2) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – Newberry Volcano, Ore.; (3) Sandia National Laboratories – Coso, Calif.; (4) Sandia National Laboratories – Fallon, Nev.; and (5) the University of Utah – Milford, Utah.

Following Phase 1, the teams were subject to a rigorous down-select process, after which DOE selected two projects for Phase 2:  Sandia National Laboratories – Fallon, Nev. and University of Utah – Milford, Utah. During Phase 2, the two teams will fully instrument, characterize, and permit the sites in preparation for full-scale FORGE operations. The final down-select will occur at the end of Phase 2B, when one team will be selected for full implementation of FORGE.