Rep. Lucas seeks expansion of nation’s geothermal energy efforts


Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas thinks it’s time the U.S. did more to promote the development of the nation’s geothermal energy.

As chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, he joined Oregon Democrat, Rep. Andrea Salinas in introducing legislation to advance supercritical geothermal energy.

“Oklahoma is a national leader in geothermal energy so I’m very familiar with the tremendous value of this energy source,” Lucas said.

He believes supercritical geothermal energy holds incredible potential for Americca’s clean energy future.

“This technology will allow us to expand geothermal energy from a few concentrated regions to areas across the country. By expanding research and development, as well as public-private partnerships, we will be able to better understand and deploy this energy source.”

Supercritical geothermal, sometimes referred to as superhot rock energy, is a category of enhanced geothermal systems that requires deep drilling technologies to access dry rocks at temperatures around 400°C or greater. Water or other liquids are then injected at depths of 4 kilometers or deeper and, utilizing natural heat deep within the Earth’s crust, returned to the surface at supercritical conditions to power a turbine and generate energy.

The Supercritical Geothermal Research and Development Act filed by Reps. Lucas and Salinas establishes a program at the Department of Energy (DOE) to focus on supercritical geothermal research. It ensures that the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) awards grants and includes testing of supercritical geothermal technologies.

It also improves collaboration between DOE and the Department of the Interior to better understand where abundant geothermal resources are located. The bill expands public-private partnerships by establishing a Next-Generation Geothermal Center of Excellence to advance enhanced geothermal energy technologies, including supercritical geothermal.

“This bipartisan bill will help solve engineering challenges and lower barriers to the commercialization of a wide range of geothermal resources—not only in my home state of Oregon, but across the United States,” said Rep. Salinas.

“Our bill sets the stage for reaching ambitious geothermal targets through technology research that will enable operations at depths that were previously inaccessible. This has the potential to maximize the efficiency of geothermal power plants, including Oregon’s own first-of-a-kind geothermal project on the western flank of Newberry Volcano.”

Source: press release