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Domestic geothermal resources have the potential to play a very significant role in the U.S. clean energy mix.

Tapping into the earth’s core could provide an inexhaustible supply of energy for billions of years to come. Today, homes and businesses can be heated by running pipes into the ground just below the earth’s surface where the temperature is a constant 50 to 60 degrees. However, utility-scale geothermal power plants—those that generate electricity—require hotter sources accessed only by wells drilled miles into the earth.

Our ability to utilize this resource lies in our ability to tap this expansive resource with greater certainty.

Determining the probability of success of a geothermal project is unlike other renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar that can be quantified through site assessments and weather data. Geothermal project developers can only confirm the resources potential of a geothermal reservoir through exploration drilling...a risky and expensive venture. Here's where you can help.

Geothermal Exploration Case Study

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Offices is asking university and college professors and their students to embark on a valuable case study assignment in exploration research.

Students will choose a site from over 250 geothermal areas identified on this site by the U.S. Geological Society and produce a case study detailing the exploration, development, and geologic history of that site.

  • Students will benefit by improving writing, critical thinking, and research skills essential to students today seeking careers in academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  • Professors will benefit from the assignment guidance, templates, and grading criteria provided by NREL and will add value to the class curriculum by giving students the opportunity to not only learn about open-source, knowledge sharing platforms but also make a significant contribution to a clean energy future.
  • Industry will benefit from analysis of the data collected to improve understanding of trends, successes, and failures in exploration and aid in the development of future exploration plans targeting prospective or undiscovered geothermal resources in the U.S. and around the globe.


The best preparation for today’s job market is a combination of academic and practical experience. Case study research in a real-world situation will help students gain valuable career skills, including problem-solving and the ability to collaborate successfully with academic researchers, experts, and stakeholders.


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