Geothermal Technologies Office Partners with RESPEC, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory for 3-Year Project

On December 2, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected three new projects to receive up to $7 million to research and develop innovative technologies that will reduce the cost of geothermal drilling operations and field development. Geothermal energy is a domestic energy resource from the heat of the earth, which represents a reliable, secure, clean, and nearly inexhaustible energy source. This research is a key step toward achieving geothermal energy’s full resource potential.

The selected projects will focus on two significant barriers—understanding the state of stress in the subsurface and mitigating lost circulation events—when drilling fluid flows into one or more geological formations instead of returning to the surface.

RESPEC, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory will partner on research studies to improve the understanding of geothermal fields, which will lead to significant cost reductions at several stages of the development cycle.

During the 3-year project, RESPEC will focus on directional cooling-induced fracturing technology for near-wellbore stress estimation in geothermal reservoirs. RESPEC will develop a borehole-based stress measurement technology that applies local directional cooling to a borehole wall in a high-temperature geothermal reservoir to induce fracturing. This project supports ongoing research into enhanced geothermal systems, in which fracturing techniques are used to form and enhance deep geothermal reservoirs.

Jay Nopola, Vice President of Mining & Energy is eager to begin the project. “We are very excited to again be working with the Department of Energy to research and bring forth safer environmental solutions. And, I know from partnering with the University of Wisconsin and Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory on previous projects, we all work well together and share a common goal of identifying efficiencies and best practices to improve the state of the industry.”

The latest DOE research funding awarded to RESPEC continues to build the long-held relationship between federal agencies and RESPEC, which started in the 1970s while RESPEC was performing federally sponsored research in the energy sector and continues today with three DOE-sponsored research projects for innovative energy technologies.

Founded in 1969, RESPEC is a global leader in geoscience, engineering, data, and integrated technology solutions and continues to push scientific and technical innovation and safe environmental engineering practices.

About the Geothermal Technologies Office
The Geothermal Technologies Office, within the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, supports early-stage research and development to strengthen the body of knowledge upon which industry can accelerate the development and deployment of innovative geothermal energy technologies.