Committee Advances Legislation to Develop Geothermal and Ocean Energy Research
(Washington, DC) – Members of the House Science and Technology Committee furthered their commitment to diversifying the country’s energy supply by approving two bills designed to boost research and development into geothermal and ocean energy technologies.
“These two bills are designed to address overlooked opportunities in our efforts to create a 21st century energy policy that emphasizes good American jobs, diversifies supply, bolsters national security, and reduces environmental impact,” said Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “But they require support for research and development in order to advance to a state of commercial readiness.”
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) introduced H.R. 2304, the Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act of 2007. The bill would authorize $90 million a year for fiscal years 2008-2012 for research and development (R&D) of technologies to locate and develop geothermal resources.
“Geothermal resources, and enhanced geothermal systems in particular, offer tremendous potential to fulfill this country’s growing energy needs,” said Rep. McNerney. “This bill allows us to tap into that promise to expand renewable options and truly move in the direction of energy independence.”
Geothermal energy is heat from the Earth’s core trapped in the Earth’s crust. In locations where high temperatures meet underground fluid-filled reservoirs, the hot water or steam produced can be used to generate clean, emission-free electricity or to directly heat buildings or greenhouses. The US Geological Society estimates there are between 95,000 and 127,000 megawatts of hydrothermal resources sufficient for electric power generation in the U.S., but experts that indicate while the potential is vast, it is largely untapped. The potential for Enhanced Geothermal Systems, which rely on intervention to create reservoirs in places where natural reservoirs do not exist, is even larger.
The bill would also establish a research program, coordinated with the Environmental Protection Agency, to identify potential environmental impacts of geothermal energy production and to research, develop and test technologies to mitigate or avoid adverse environmental impacts.
Members adopted seven amendments to H.R. 2304 during today’s meeting. To view them, follow this link.
H.R. 2313, the Marine Renewable Energy Research and Development Act of 2007, was introduced by Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-OR).
The legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), authorizes $50 million a year from fiscal years 2008-2012 to support R&D of technologies to produce electric power from renewable marine resources, such as waves, tidal flows or ocean currents.
"Lessening our dependence on foreign oil is vital both for our economy and our national security. Investing in marine renewable energy technologies will lead us toward energy independence by harnessing the energy contained in the ocean just off American shores,” said Rep. Hooley. “Other countries are already aggressively developing the benefits of this untapped clean, renewable energy source and Congress took steps today to help America catch up with the global competition."
Moving water contains a much higher energy concentration, or density, than other renewable sources, such as wind or solar. H.R. 2313 is designed to pave the way for research in technologies that will effectively harness the energy contained in ocean movements or thermal gradients to use in generating electric power.
Specifically, the bill would instruct the Secretary of Energy to support programs to:
Reduce the manufacturing and operation costs of marine renewable energy technologies;
Investigate integration of such technologies into the power grid;
Advance technologies to forecast waves;
Coordinate with the EPA to study the environmental impacts of the technologies and mitigate adverse impacts.
At today’s markup, Members adopted seven amendments to H.R. 2313. To view them, follow this link.