DOE and Partners Test Enhanced Geothermal Systems Technologies

February 20, 2008

DOE has embarked on a project with a number of partners to test Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) technologies at a commercial geothermal power facility near Reno, Nevada. EGS technology enhances the permeability of underground strata, typically by injecting water into the strata at high pressure. The concept was initially developed to create geothermal reservoirs in hot underground strata where no water existed—a technology called "hot dry rock"—but has since been extended as a means of enhancing the performance of existing geothermal reservoirs. Under the DOE project, EGS technology will be tested in a well at the 11-megawatt Desert Peak facility, which is owned by Ormat Technologies, Inc. The well is currently not able to produce commercially useful quantities of hot geothermal fluid, but with the help of EGS, the site is thought to have the potential to produce 50 megawatts of power or more.

DOE, Ormat, and GeothermEx are leading the research and development project, with the participation of the University of Utah, TerraTek, Pinnacle Technologies, the U.S. Geological Survey, and three of DOE's national laboratories: Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratory. DOE is providing $1.6 million to support the project. In addition to the current work on the sub-commercial well, the project participants are planning to use the EGS facilities at Desert Peak as a potential test site for future technology developments. See the Ormat press release.

Meanwhile, an application of EGS in a true hot dry rock application in Australia is continuing to make progress. Geodynamics, Limited announced on February 5th that the company has completed its production well, called Habanero 3. Any day now, the company should be starting a circulation test by injecting water into Habanero 1 and removing the heated geothermal water from Habanero 3. The test should give the company an indication of the potential power production of the artificially created geothermal reservoir. See the Geodynamics announcement (PDF 41 KB). Download Adobe Reader.