U.S Geothermal Energy Program five year research plan, 1986--1990. Draft of July 1986 Page: 8 of 82
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Geothermal energy -- the heat of the earth -- can, with appropriate tech-
nologies, be used cleanly and safely. It is employed in many countries through-
out the world, and its contribution to United States energy needs alone can be
significant, as both direct heat and conversion to electric power.
Geothermal energy originates from the earth's hot interior and the decay
of radioactive materials in the crust. In some places, this heat comes to the
surface in natural vents of hot water or steam, which have been used since
prehistoric times for cooking and bathing. In other places, man-made water or
steam wells convey the heat from deep in the earth to homes, factories, and
electric turbine generators.
Despite the visibility of hot springs and geysers in limited areas of the
country, there is a lack of awareness of the resource, its economic value, and
the technology to exploit it among large segments of U.S. industry and the
public. Reservoir sizes and production rates are uncertain, and technology
required to produce the reservoirs and convert the thermal power is risky and
expensive. While cooperative industry/Department of Energy (DOE) programs have
made major advances, confirmed by the development of a number of additional
geothermal reservoirs, the uncertainty, risk, and cost remain too high to.fully
exploit the resource or to determine its full potential contribution to U.S.
With the exception of the large geothermal power plant complex at The
Geysers in west central California which uses the most economically favorable
'orm of geothermal energy, the U.S. industry is very small and has only recently
becomee competitive in the energy market. It can support little, if any,
technology research and development, especially since the large decrease in oil
prices has adversely affected its competitive posture. Thus, DOE continues to
conduct an R&D program to provide a technology base to make geothermal energy a
viable and significant contributor to the U.S. energy supply.
This document presents the Fiscal Year 1986 - 1990 Five-Year Research
Plan for the Geothermal Program of the Department of Energy, hereinafter re-
ferred to as the "Program." This introduction describes the policy framework
within which the DOE Geothermal Program operates, and provides a brief descrip-
tion of the purpose of the Program and its general activities. Subsequent
sections address the following:
Section II, Geothermal Energy Technology, describes the four types of
geothermal energy resource types and the technology that is, or might be,
used to extract and convert geothermal energy.
Section III, Geothermal R&D Strategy, describes the general strategies
used to plan and conduct the Program, and how the strategic components of
the Program are'balanced within the DOE process for planning R&D on renew-
able energy systems.
Section IV, The Technical Plan, describes the objectives and technical
thrusts of the Program's R&D activities for the next five years, as
envisioned in FY 1986.
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U.S Geothermal Energy Program five year research plan, 1986--1990. Draft of July 1986, report, July 1, 1986; United States. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc878652/m1/8/?rotate=0: accessed May 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.