This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 19, 2014

Energy Department Offers $3 Million to Support Geothermal and Critical Materials

The Energy Department on February 14 announced $3 million for research and development to help grow U.S. low-to-moderate-temperature geothermal resources and support a domestic supply of critical materials, such as lithium carbonate and rare earth elements. By partnering with the geothermal and mineral industries, the Energy Department is working to expand the geographic diversity of clean, renewable geothermal energy beyond the traditional western region of the United States.

Rare earths and other critical materials are essential for a range of technologies, including electric vehicles and wind turbines, as well as personal electronics such as cell phones and laptops. The use of lithium batteries, for instance, has soared over the last decade, and industry expects annual global demand for lithium carbonate used to manufacture these batteries to exceed 250,000 tons by 2017—a 60% increase from today. As demand grows in this market, securing reliable domestic supplies of critical materials for advanced manufacturing remains a growing challenge. The Energy Department aims to advance cost-competitive geothermal energy while helping to meet this increasing demand.

The Energy Department will fund up to ten feasibility studies and/or applied research and development projects to advance technologies that could lower the cost of geothermal energy production while diversifying and stabilizing the supply of critical materials for domestic industries. See the Energy Department news release.