Low-Temperature and Co-produced Geothermal Resources
The Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) works with industry, academia, and national laboratories to develop and deploy new low-temperature and co-production technologies that will help the geothermal community achieve widespread adoption of under-utilized low-temperature resources.
Low-temperature geothermal energy is defined as heat obtained from the geothermal fluid in the ground at temperatures of 300°F (150°C) or less. These resources are typically used in direct-use applications, such as district heating, greenhouses, fisheries, mineral recovery, and industrial process heating. However, some low-temperature resources can be harnessed to generate electricity using binary cycle electricity generating technology.
Hot geothermal fluid is a byproduct of many oil and gas wells within the United States, and 25 billion barrels of it are produced each year. Historically this hot water has been an inconvenience and a disposal issue; however, it is now being looked at as a resource to produce electricity for field use or to be sold to the grid. These and other co-produced geothermal resources have the potential to produce significant amounts of baseload electricity at low costs and with near zero emissions.
GTO is working toward a goal of achieving widespread production of low-temperature power by 2020 through surface and down-hole technology advances, improved education and outreach, and increased collaboration between government and industry.
GTO's R&D efforts regarding low-temperature geothermal resources are focused on the analysis of resource potential, power production capabilities, improved working fluids, innovative cooling technologies, and oil and gas field co-production opportunities.
Get details on GTO-funded projects related to low-temperature, co-produced, and geopressured resources.
Strategic Action Plan
The Low-Temperature, Co-produced, and Geopressured Geothermal Technologies Strategic Action Plan presents an agenda for the Low-Temperature and Co-produced subprogram to efficiently and effectively leverage its resources in support of the geothermal community's goals and priorities. This action plan is based upon the input of experts in the geothermal industry. Implementing the action plan will help provide the geothermal community with the means to develop and widely deploy economically viable, innovative, and scalable technologies.
The April 2013 issue of Power Engineering magazine featured an article by GTO physical scientist Tim Reinhardt about New Ways to Produce Geothermal Power at Lower Temperatures.
Technology Planning Workshop
GTO held a Technology Roadmapping Workshop on July 13-14, 2010 in Golden, Colorado, to focus strategically on accelerating the use of low-temperature, co-produced, and geopressured geothermal power in the United States. The workshop generated the information that supported the development of the Strategic Action Plan.
Presentations and other materials from the workshop:
- Raw Results
- Low-Temperature Geothermal Energy, David Blackwell, Southern Methodist University Geothermal Laboratory
- NREL's New Directions in Geothermal R&D, Tom Williams, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
- Regulatory Impacts to Geothermal Development, Kermit Witherbee, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
On November 18, 2010, GTO's Tim Reinhardt presented a webinar to members of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. The webinar provided an overview of the state of low-temperature geothermal resources, and presented case studies and examples of co-production with oil and gas production.