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Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act of 2007

Bill Summary and Status

Reported (as amended) by the full Committee, June 13, 2007

Reported (as amended) by the Energy and Environment Subcommittee June 6, 2007

Introduced in the House May 14, 2007

Bill Summary

H.R. 2304 directs the Secretary of Energy to support programs of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application in advanced geothermal energy technologies. It also establishes or expands several programs for technology transfer and information sharing on geothermal energy.

Section by Section

Section 1. Short Title
Act may be cited as the “Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act of 2007”

Section 2. Findings
Geothermal energy is a renewable resource capable of providing baseload power generation (and other applications) with minimal environmental impact. The geothermal energy potential in the United States is widely distributed and vast in size, yet it remains barely tapped. Sustained and expanded funding for research, development, demonstration, and commercial application programs is needed to improve the technologies to locate, characterize, and develop geothermal resources.

Section 3. Definitions
Provides definitions for the following terms used in the Act: ‘Engineered’ (as it pertains to enhanced geothermal systems), ‘Enhanced Geothermal Systems’, ‘Geofluid’, ‘Geopressured Resources’, ‘Geothermal’, ‘Hydrothermal’, ‘Secretary’, and ‘Systems Approach’.

Section. 4. Hydrothermal Research and Development
Instructs the Secretary to support research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of technologies designed to assist in locating and characterizing undiscovered hydrothermal resources. Section 4(b)(1) instructs the Secretary to support the development of geoscientific tools and technologies that can assist in the process of locating hidden hydrothermal resources that do not exhibit obvious manifestations at the earth’s surface. The section specifies that this program shall include a field component, to encourage development of these tools under real world conditions. Section 4(b)(2) establishes an “industry-coupled exploratory drilling” program, which is a cost-shared program with industry partners to demonstrate and apply advanced exploration technologies in the field. This is intended as a demonstration program to apply existing technologies – especially the most advanced technologies available – in a practical setting to discover and confirm hidden hydrothermal resources and expand the confirmed hydrothermal resource base.

Section 5. General Geothermal Systems Research and Development
The programs under Section 5 are intended to support the development of technologies applicable to the locating, developing, and using all geothermal systems, whether they are hydrothermal systems, Enhanced Geothermal Systems, or a hybrid of the two. Subparagraph (a) establishes a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of system components and materials capable of withstanding the extreme environment (high temperatures and corrosiveness) in geothermal wells. Subparagraph (b) establishes a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of improved models of geothermal reservoir performance. Subparagraph (c)(1) establishes a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of technologies to mitigate or preclude adverse environmental impacts from geothermal energy development. Subparagraph (c)(2) directs the Secretary, in conjunction with the Office of Research and Development at EPA, to study what the environmental impacts of geothermal energy development might be, and ensure that the program in (c)(1) addresses those impacts. The intent is to ensure that all reasonable efforts are undertaken to ensure that geothermal energy development may proceed with the smallest possible environmental impact.

Section 6. Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) Research and Development
Section 6, subparagraph (a) instructs the Secretary to support a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of technologies necessary to advance EGS to a state of commercial readiness. Subparagraph (b) establishes a cost-shared, field-based program of research, development, and demonstration of technologies to create and stimulate EGS reservoirs. A minimum of 5 sites shall be selected, each representing different geologic conditions and showing potential for EGS development. The intent is to prove the viability of EGS technology in as many different geological settings as possible.

Section 7. Geothermal Energy Production from Oil and Gas Fields and Recovery and Production of Geopressured Gas Resources
Establishes a demonstration program to prove the feasibility of co-producing geothermal power from hot water “co-produced” from oil and gas fields. This section also directs the Secretary of Energy to hold a design competition to produce preliminary designs for state-of-the-art approaches to recovering the energy contained in geopressured resources – which contain heat, pressure, and dissolved methane – in and near the Gulf of Mexico.

Section 8. Cost Sharing and Proposal Evaluation
Instructs the Secretary to use the guidelines established in Section 988 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to determine the Federal/non-Federal cost-share ratios for projects funded under this Act. In addition, section 8 allows the Secretary to waive cost-share requirements for projects awarded to non-commercial entities, such as universities or national laboratories, and instructs the Secretary to incorporate a competitive bidding process into the process of determining the cost-share ratio for each project. Section 8 also establishes various instructions for the Secretary to follow in evaluating project proposals.

Section 9. Centers for Geothermal Technology Transfer
Provides for the creation of two Centers of technology transfer to function as information clearinghouses for the benefit of geothermal researchers and the geothermal industry. These centers shall be dedicated to collecting and disseminating all available information relevant to locating, developing, and managing geothermal resources to produce energy. One of the centers is to be located west of the Mississippi River, probably west of the Rocky Mountains, and shall be dedicated to managing information relevant to hydrothermal systems development; the other center shall be located east of the Rocky Mountains, and shall be dedicated to managing information relevant to Enhanced Geothermal Systems development.

Section 10. Geopowering America
Expands the scope of an existing, domestic geothermal technology transfer program from the western US to the entire country, so as to encourage the transfer and adoption of appropriate geothermal energy technologies throughout the entire United States.

Section 11. Reports
Subparagraph 11(a) requires the Secretary to track technological advances impacting geothermal energy development and advanced uses of geothermal energy and fluids, and report back to the Committee every other year for the next five years (a total of three times). Subparagraph 11(b)(1) requires the Secretary to report back to the Committee after 3 years describing the progress made under this Act up to that point. At the end of 5 years, the Secretary shall report on the results of projects undertaken under this Act. Subparagraph 11(b)(2) requires the Secretary to report back to Congress, as necessary, on any legal, regulatory, or other barriers encountered that hinder economic development of geothermal resources and provide recommendations on legislative or other actions needed to address such impediments.

Section 12. Applicability of Other Laws
Affirms the applicability of all requirements under Federal and State laws, including environmental laws, to projects undertaken under this Act.

Section 13. Authorization of Appropriations
Authorizes appropriations of $90,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2008 through 2012, of which $10,000,000 for each fiscal year shall be for carrying out section 7.

110th Congress