DOE awards geothermal research grants in NV, UT, CA, ID, OR

 DOE awards geothermal research grants in NV, UT, CA, ID, OR

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The U.S. Energy Department awarded grants Monday to scientists in Nevada and four other western states to develop research for a national lab aimed at tapping hard-to-get-to geothermal energy they say someday could provide enough power to supply 100 million homes.

Lynn Orr, energy undersecretary for science, announced during a speech in Reno that research teams in California, Idaho, Oregon and Utah also will share the $2 million for the first phase of the project.

Next year, DOE will choose three finalists to share an additional $29 million in the second phase of the effort aimed at building the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy, dubbed, FORGE.

Orr said the field lab will develop "enhanced geothermal systems" to create pathways beneath the earth to access geothermal reservoirs with water flows through hard rock formations that can't be reached using existing technology.

"It turns out there's quite a bit of hot rock like this around the country but it's hard to get to," he told The Associated Press.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the scientists are developing the "next generation of geothermal technology."

The Nevada site for the work is at Naval Air Station Fallon about 60 miles east of Reno, where Ormat Technologies has "spent a lot of money and knows there's geothermal down underground but they can't get to it."

Orr said the other first phase of research is planned at the Idaho National Laboratory west of Idaho Falls, a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory site next to the Newberry Volcano in Oregon, a University of Utah site at Milford City, Utah, and a Sandia National Labs site in Coso, California.

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