The U.S. Department of Energy last week announced that it plans to make $84 million available for geothermal energy projects over the next few years. Some $35 million of that will fund 20-30 research proposals focused on the development of advanced geothermal technology, while the remaining $49 million will be used to bankroll 5-10 domestic projects demonstrating enhanced geothermal systems that generate at least 5 megawatts of electricity per year.
Geothermal energy comes from natural heat sources deep beneath the Earth's surface, and can be used to produce electricity—or heat buildings directly—with little if any greenhouse gas emissions. Often overshadowed by solar and wind energy, geothermal is coming on strong in the U.S. and abroad as a practical and readily available alternative renewable source of energy. The U.S. is currently the world leader in terms of geothermal energy production, with some 29 geothermal power plants operating on federal lands from coast to coast generating 1,250 megawatts—or enough to power 1.2 million homes on an ongoing basis—cumulatively.
"President Obama has laid out an ambitious agenda to put millions of people to work by investing in clean energy technology like geothermal energy," Energy Secretary Steven Chu told reporters. "The administration is committed to funding important research like this to transform the way we use and produce energy and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil," he added.
Source: Planet Ark