State Governor grants $1 million for efforts of FORGE geothermal project in Nevada

Grimes Point, near Fallon, Churchill County, Nevada (source: flickr/ Ken Lund, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 13 Nov 2017

The Office of Energy of Nevada's Governor is funding $1 million to the University of Nevada in Reno for preparation of drilling work at the FORGE research project in Fallon, Nevada.

The Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy has announced $1 million in support of research near Fallon that will allow scientists and engineers to develop, test, and accelerate breakthroughs in enhanced geothermal technologies and techniques.

The funding will go to the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and will allow for geothermal drilling at the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) site, a groundbreaking U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research project that builds on Nevada’s history of innovative geothermal development.

“Nevada is an international leader in geothermal production and technology but in order to remain the best in the world, we must continue to innovate and invest in research and development,” said Governor Brian Sandoval. “These funds demonstrate the state’s commitment to renewable energy and our dedication to remaining the top research destination and producer of geothermal technology and techniques.”

DOE awarded funding for the Fallon site in April 2015 as one of five locations chosen after a competitive research phase evaluated underground research sites for enhanced geothermal systems throughout the United States. Nevada was one of two finalists selected by DOE again in September 2016 to advance to FORGE Phase 2, which involves the acquisition of new data to better characterize the site and allow for selection of a final location for FORGE. If selected as the finalist, the Fallon site would become the headquarters for an underground field laboratory to conduct cutting-edge research and development of an enhanced geothermal system (EGS).

Nevada’s selection has given its Fallon team the opportunity to build on recent successes in geothermal exploration, structural modeling, drilling, and enhanced geothermal systems that have made Nevada a global hotbed for geothermal research. The team has been gathering additional scientific data from the site, including detailed analyses of rock samples, natural seismicity, surface and borehole characteristics, and other geological analyses.

UNR is playing a prominent role in the project.  The Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology at UNR, in close collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, is leading development of the geologic model for the site, which is crucial for site characterization and future research and experiments.

Nevada is consistently ranked #1 in the nation for installed geothermal per capita, and its wealth of geothermal resources comprises half of the renewable energy generation produced in the state.

“Our state is fully committed to clean energy innovation and emerging technologies,” said Governor’s Office of Energy Director Angela Dykema. “Enhanced geothermal systems have the potential to revolutionize our domestic geothermal production and position Nevada to lead in exportation of renewable energy. FORGE is a game changer for our state.”

EGS can do this by unlocking enormous and geographically diverse clean energy by using heat from the earth to generate renewable electricity. One of FORGE’s long-term goals is to enable domestic access to a carbon free energy resource on the order of 100 gigawatts, or enough energy to power about 100 million homes. An open data policy will make the research project a leading resource for the broader scientific and engineering community studying geothermal energy.

The Fallon team will use Governor’s Office of Energy funds to prepare for the competitive FORGE effort for designation as the final site for the headquarters of the nation’s future underground geothermal field laboratory.

“The Fallon FORGE Team is extremely grateful for the continued support from the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy,” said Doug Blankenship.  This contribution of funds will not only help in the assessment of the Fallon site but is a direct demonstration of the State’s commitment to the Fallon FORGE project and the advancement of geothermal energy in Nevada and our Nation.”

In addition to UNR, team members include Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.S. Geological Survey, GeothermEx/Schlumberger, U.S. Navy, Ormat Nevada Inc., and Itasca Consulting Group as well as EMPSi, Hi-Q Geophysical, and Innovate Geothermal.

Source: Release by the Office of Energy of the Governor of Nevada