DOE offers more funding for geothermal energy research

February 25, 2014 0 By Alicia Moore

Agency aims to bring more value to geothermal power through research and development initiative

DOE - Geothermal Energy FundingThe U.S. Department of Energy has begun showing more interest in geothermal energy and its capabilities to extract rare earth elements. Geothermal systems derive their energy from deep within the earth. These systems typically produce what is known as “geothermal brine,” which is a liquid solution that circulates through crustal rocks and becomes enriched with minerals and other substances. The Department of Energy believes that geothermal power could be an economic way to extract rare earth elements.

Geothermal power could be a valuable tool in mineral extraction

The federal agency has announced that it is offering as much as $3 million in research and development funds for this purpose. The agency intends to support research groups that focus on low-to-moderate temperature geothermal projects. These projects may be able to address two issues at the same time, the first being energy production. Geothermal power could contribute to solving the nation’s energy problems and help further drive down the cost of electrical power throughout the country. The U.S. also has been looking for ways to extract rare earth elements in a cost effective manner.

Mineral extraction may make geothermal power more attractive

By supporting the research of geothermal energy‘s mineral extraction potential, geothermal power may quickly become more attractive as a form of energy. Not only would geothermal facilities be able to produce electricity, they would also become a supplier of rare minerals that are in high demand, thus further increasing their value. The problem, however, is that geothermal power can only be tapped into in a few placed in the U.S. California is currently considered one of the more active states when it comes to geothermal power, but others bordering the Pacific Ocean also have a great deal of potential.

Government continues to show support for a wide range of energies

Geothermal power is part of the federal government’s expansive energy plan. This plan has the country focusing on a wide range of energies and clean technologies. Geothermal power has received relatively little support when compared to the support that both wind and solar power have received. The Department of Energy has, however, noted that it intends to support ambitious geothermal projects more aggressively in the future.

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