Geothermal power grid proposed by Energy Department

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The federal government wants to take advantage of the kind of geothermal research that the University of Oklahoma is doing in supplying heat to school buildings in Tuttle.

The Department of Energy announced funding opportunity of up to $7 million to develop regional grid models to assess how clean, firm geothermal power can support an equitable energy transition through decarbonization and study its effects on the grid at various deployment levels.

In other words, the government wants to develop regional power grids much like it did in choosing hydrogen grids, a selection that did not include Oklahoma’s proposed hydrogen operation in cooperation with Arkansas and Louisiana. The Energy Department’s Geothermal Technologies Office contends geothermal energy has the potential to provide firm, flexible, renewable power to more than 65 million homes across the U.S.

The Energy Department awarded funding to the University of Oklahoma two years ago to provide geothermal energy and heat from abandoned oil and gas wells near schools in Tuttle. At the time, it was one of four such geothermal projects that received up to $8.4 million from the government. OU’s project involved access to four hydrocarbon wells within a mile of the Tuttle Elementary and Middle schools.

The latest funding from the Energy Department appears to be an extension of the financing provided to such research as started in 2022 by OU. 

GTO intends to fund regional grid modeling studies within specific power pools, joint utilities groups, utility service territories, or Tribal jurisdictions in the conterminous United States, Alaska, Hawai’i, or U.S. territories. Through this funding opportunity, GTO aims to quantify the role of geothermal power in an equitable, decarbonized grid. This work will address the challenge of grid stability through detailed studies on how geothermal power can support and stabilize the grid as it incorporates higher shares of variable renewable energy sources.