DOE Innovators Roundtable on Enhanced Geothermal Systems with Secretary Granholm

September 9, 2022

60 years ago this month, John F. Kennedy gave his famous speech at Rice University, “We choose to go to the Moon.” Thus, it was fitting that this week, the US Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, was in Houston to announce an ‘Earthshot’ initiative to accelerate domestic production of zero-emission, baseload geothermal energy  Secretary Granholm announced the initiative at a press conference, and then hosted a roundtable discussion with Reginald DesRoches, the president of Rice University, and a group of innovators in the geothermal space.


ResFrac CEO Mark McClure was one of the participants in the roundtable. Sec. Granholm asked him how to increase engagement from the oil and gas industry in geothermal. He responded that multistage stimulation presents a huge opportunity for the geothermal industry. This technology has had a transformative impact on the oil and gas industry over the past two decades. The United States has huge geothermal resources that require stimulation to be accessed economically. Multistage stimulation is a technology ideally suited to resolve this technical problem. He said that the DOE can help kickstart private investment by supporting pilot projects that prove the technology in the field, which de-risks the approach for the private sector. Also, the DOE can help by supporting the development of supporting technologies such as temperature-hardened downhole tools, and by helping address non-technical challenges, by supporting programs such as loan guarantees.


With tool development, there is a ‘chicken-or-egg’ problem where service companies do not develop the tools to facilitate geothermal multistage stimulation because the market is small, but the market will grow slowly without development of the tools. This is an ideal situation where targeted federal funding for technology development can make a significant impact.


The DOE has been doing great work to support geothermal technology development, through programs such as FORGE and EGS Collab, and they have recently announced additional new initiatives. The ‘Earthshot’ announcement underscores that the DOE is prioritizing geothermal production, which is a great thing for the industry.


Here at ResFrac, we support the companies developing these innovative technologies. At its core, scaling geothermal energy production requires solving a problem in subsurface engineering – how do we achieve high flow rate and good heat-sweep efficiency through geothermal reservoirs? This is precisely the challenge that we work with geothermal companies to help address.

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