First U.S. Grid-Connected Enhanced Geothermal System Deployed

April 17, 2013

The Energy Department on April 12 recognized the nation’s first commercial enhanced geothermal system (EGS) project to supply electricity to the grid. Based in Churchill County, Nevada, Ormat Technologies’ Desert Peak 2 EGS project has increased power output of its nearby operating geothermal field by nearly 38 %, generating an additional 1.7 megawatts of power. EGS technologies utilize directional drilling and pressurized water to enhance flow paths in the subsurface rock and create new reservoirs, capturing energy from resources that were once considered uneconomical or unrecoverable.

Leveraging a $5.4 million Energy Department investment—matched by $2.6 million in private sector funding—the Ormat Desert Peak project is extending the life of previously unproductive geothermal wells. Since the project’s start in 2008, the Energy Department has worked with Ormat, GeothermEx, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Lawrence Berkeley and Sandia National Laboratories to develop cost-effective and innovative production technologies that utilize protective environmental best practices and monitoring. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that EGS in the United States has the potential to enable development of 100 to 500 gigawatts of geothermal resource capacity. See the Energy Department press release and the Energy Department's Geothermal Technologies Office website.