U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

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Hydrothermal and Resource Confirmation

The development of advanced exploration tools and technologies will accelerate the discovery and utilization of the U.S. Geological Survey's estimated 30,000 MWe of undiscovered hydrothermal resources in the Western United States by increasing exploration and confirmation well success rates. More effective exploration methods address a major barrier to increased geothermal energy production by lowering the high upfront risk and cost of project development. Locating undiscovered geothermal resources will support the near-term expansion of renewable energy because once found, hydrothermal resources can be brought online quickly using current technologies.

The lack of ability to accurately predict temperature and permeability at depth from the surface is a major cause of exploration risk. Additionally, subsurface characterization and imaging are critical for the efficient utilization of all types of geothermal resources, including low temperature and coproduced, permeable sedimentary and enhanced geothermal systems. The Geothermal Technologies Office is also focused on reducing the operations and maintenance (O&M) costs of hydrothermal systems. 

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced $3 million to spur geothermal energy development using play fairway analysis. To learn about this financial opportunity, including application details, watch this recording of our webinar below:

cover image of the webinar powerpoint presentation
Presentation slide.

Exploration Research and Development Activities

The Geothermal Technologies Office conducted a technology needs assessment for geothermal exploration technologies in 2011, identifying areas of opportunity where technology advancements could increase geothermal exploratory success and reduce up-front development risks and costs. The Office focuses R&D efforts in these five categories: 




Remote Sensing


Exploration Technology Priorities

Visit our projects database to learn about our Hydrothermal and Resource Confirmation projects.


*This animation is a Calpine Corporation and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory collaborative project co-funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. It was produced by Baker Hughes in 2012.

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Content Last Updated: 02/12/2014