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As a key investor and government entity, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) needs a tool to track and measure impacts of its funding. One metric that has been suggested for use in measuring impact in the GTO’s Hydrothermal Program is to measure changes in geothermal resource knowledge resulting from funded project activities. To use such a metric, however, it is important to be able to develop and measure baseline values, as well as incremental improvements – both at the individual project and aggregated portfolio levels.

The GeoRePORT System is the first system to provide a cohesive framework for communicating both knowledge and quality consistently among diverse play types and economic situations.

Goals & Objectives

The goal of this project is to provide GTO with a framework to evaluate the impact of research, development and deployment (RD&D) funding on furthering the identification, exploration and development of geothermal resources in the U.S. in the GTO’s Hydrothermal Program.

Example 1
Preliminary analysis of the U.S. geothermal resource potential (using this methodology) may show that 33% of the 9GW of identified resource in inaccessible due to poor access to transmission. If this were the situation, GTO may set a measurable goal to increase transmission access for this 3GW, perhaps moving all of these resources to a Transmission Grade of B or better by a certain year. This would clearly communicate to applicants what their project would need to work toward to help GTO achieve this goal. GTO could report to Congress that the impact of the funding was to increase transmission access for these 3GW from C-E grades up to B or better grades - and to show how much progress was made.
Example 2
In the past, GTO has funded promising projects that were unable to obtain the necessary permits within the timeframe of the project. GTO may, as a requirement for applicants, require that projects reach a certain level of permitting progress along the socio-economic axis, or require a minimum Permitting Grade (e.g. grade C or above) for project to be able to be considered for funding.

Benefits for DOE

This methodology, when completed will help GTO to:

  • quantitatively identify the greatest barriers to geothermal development,
  • develop measureable program goals that will have the greatest impact to geothermal deployment,
  • objectively evaluate proposals based (in part) on a project’s ability to contribute to program goals,
  • monitor project progress, and
  • report on GTO portfolio performance.

Benefits for Industry

This methodology, when completed will help Industry to:

  • more objectively and quantitatively compare project potential in different areas,
  • understand GTO's goals, and tailor its funding applications to meet those goals,
  • meet GTO's expectations and qualifications for minimum application requirements, and
  • report to GTO on project progress and impacts.

Benefits for Investors

Transparency into the quality of the geothermal resource - and uncertainty in resource capacity estimates in early stages of development - has been cited as a reason for high perceived financial risk within geothermal project development. [1] By systematically collecting the stage of research, as well as the uncertainty in the data, investors may be able to better calibrate their risk premium to the geologic uncertainty.

The primary focus of the GeoRePORT System is for use by GTO, as outlined above. While we recognize the potential use by investors, it is not the focus of the development of this system.

  1. Glacier Partners (Glacier Partners). 2009. Geothermal Economics 101 - Economics of a 35 MW Binary Cycle Geothermal Plant. New York, New York: Glacier Partners.

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