U.S. Department of Energy selects Utah for $140 million geothermal laboratory

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced Utah as the winning site to receive up to $140 million in funding across five years to build a first-of-its-kind research laboratory to advance next-generation geothermal technologies.

Led by the University of Utah’s Energy & Geoscience Institute, in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, the Utah Geological Survey and other key agencies, the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) laboratory will be located near Milford.

“Utah is proud to provide national leadership in advancing energy innovation that will help drive affordable, baseload, renewable power to market,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “This will put Utah on the map as a world leader for geothermal research as well as expand geothermal production here in rural Utah and throughout the world.”

The site will be dedicated to exploring enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), or manmade geothermal reservoirs created by techniques that have revolutionized the oil and gas industry through hydraulic fracturing.  During a successful pilot program this past year, the Utah FORGE site exceeded criteria across rock type, heat gradient and porosity while operating on time and under budget.

“The University of Utah’s world-class research team is excited to drive new national energy opportunities forward by leading the FORGE laboratory,” said John McLennan, University of Utah chemical engineering associate professor. “We are grateful for the partnership we have received across multiple agencies, including the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, to bring about this outcome.”

“We’re proud to deliver on the Governor’s Energy Action plan by working together to realize this incredible opportunity for Utah, the nation and the world,” said Laura Nelson, the Governor’s energy advisor and executive director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development.  “Utah’s commitment to advancing energy innovation will enhance the state’s role as an international destination for energy research and development that mutually promotes our economic and environmental success.”

“FORGE is a testament to Utah’s successful formula of strategic investment in innovation and research that pays off in enormous economic opportunities for Utah, especially rural Utah,” said Val Hale, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Learn more about the Utah FORGE site by watching the three part video series produced by OED and EGI.