The Idaho National Laboratory made the first cut in what’s being called the “Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE).” A total of $2 million is set aside for this early phase of the research; $31 million will be allocated of the first two phases.

Other entities in this multi-discipline effort to explore new geothermal power opportunities known where they might not have existed in the past were announced by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which is coordinating the project. They include the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories (California), Sandia National Laboratories (Nevada), and University of Utah. The technologies, known as Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) do not depend on accessing hot water underground, but identifying hot zones and introducing a fluid to more closely resemble a more conventional geothermal system.

In the case of INL, key partners include the Snake River Geothermal Consortium, which includes the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Universities of Idaho, Oklahoma and Wyoming, Idaho State University, Boise State University, Energy & Geoscience Institute at the University of Utah, Geothermal Resources Group, Inc., Baker Hughes, U.S. Geothermal Inc., Mink GeoHydro Inc., Campbell Scientific, U.S. Geological Survey, Idaho Geological Survey, and Idaho Department of Water Resources.

“The proposed FORGE site on the Snake River Plain in Idaho is located on Idaho National Laboratory’s lands, and has already been designated as a 100 (square kilometers) Geothermal Research Area. The field site is located along the Yellowstone Hotspot – an area with potentially high subsurface temperature and mechanical rock characterizations favorable for EGS reservoir simulation. Snake River Geothermal Consortium will begin planning, modeling, and public engagement to adapt existing technologies to geothermal systems, helping to advance geothermal energy as a widespread source of renewable baseload power.”