Geothermal energy — using the natural heat beneath the Earth’s surface to generate electricity — is a vast, largely untapped resource with the potential to meet the nation’s power needs many times over. Today, two-thirds of the electricity generated in the U.S. comes from fossil fuels, including 39 percent from coal. Geothermal energy offers one of the most promising alternatives to fossil fuels for reducing carbon dioxide emissions while providing a stable baseload energy supply. It is renewable, has a small environmental footprint and emits no greenhouse gases.
To turn the potential of geothermal energy into cost-competitive commercial applications, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is establishing FORGE — the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy. FORGE will be a dedicated site where scientists and engineers can develop and test new technologies for Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). Research conducted at FORGE will advance commercialization and deployments of EGS, as well as provide immediate benefits to the existing geothermal industry.
Newberry Geothermal Energy (NEWGEN) is one of five FORGE proposals being reviewed by DOE. Its site at the Newberry Volcano in Central Oregon is the only one located on a volcano. Here, hot rock is closer to the surface, making it easier to drill wells and carry out enhanced geothermal system (EGS) research. This site is also unique for its existing EGS reservoir, many decades of previous geothermal exploration and research and its established infrastructure.