DOE awards $8.4m for accessing geothermal from old oil and gas wells
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected four new projects to receive up to $8.4 million to establish new geothermal energy and heat production from abandoned oil and gas wells, as announced by DOE on January 12, 2022. With this funding, DOE is partnering with existing well owners and operators to use their idle or unproductive wells to access otherwise untapped geothermal potential. Transforming oil wells into geothermal wells could expand U.S. geothermal energy capabilities, supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of a carbon-free grid by 2035. This work also supports the creation of new clean energy jobs, helping transition some of the oil and gas workforce to the production of renewable energy.
“With this initiative approach, we can transform existing fossil fuel wells into productive sources of sustainable, clean geothermal energy,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. “These efforts will demonstrate how to leverage our existing oil and gas workforce and infrastructure, bringing more geothermal energy online and transitioning our energy workforce into the growing clean energy economy.”
The selected projects include:
- Geothermix, LLC (Austin, TX) – Geothermix will harvest waste heat from existing oil and gas wells in Texas to generate commercial quantities of geothermal electricity.
- ICE Thermal Harvesting (Houston, TX) – ICE Thermal Harvesting will produce electricity from 11 existing oil and gas wells in California’s San Joaquin Valley using an innovative power generation technology.
- Transitional Energy (Aurora, CO) – Transitional Energy will install state-of-the-art, American-made geothermal heat engines at Blackburn Oilfield in Nevada for electrical power production. As a result of the project, Transitional Energy will generate geothermal energy at the site and construct new rural electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
- University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK) – University of Oklahoma will produce heat from an Oklahoma oilfield for use in Tuttle Elementary and Middle Schools in Tuttle, Oklahoma. With access to four hydrocarbon wells within a mile, the schools will benefit from the ‘recycling’ of oil and gas infrastructure at considerable savings for the schools.
This program is part of the?Wells of Opportunity initiative, funded by the Geothermal Technologies Office, that launched in 2020 and focuses on bringing geothermal online using existing infrastructure to lower costs and reduce development timelines. Last year, three projects were funded to help support research and development and reduce the costs and risks associated with geothermal development.