An Overview of the Department of Energy Geothermal Program


J.E. Mock, R.E. Blackett


Stanford Geothermal Workshop







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It is a pleasure to be here again for the 13th Annual Stanford Geothermal Reservoir Engineering Workshop. At No. 13, your workshop goes back almost as far as the federal geothermal research and devel opment program about which I am here to speak with you today. I don't need to remind many of you that the earliest Congressional mandates for federal geothermal R&D were to the Atomic Energy Commission and the National Science Foundation in the early 1970's. Many of our on-going programs have their origins in those agencies. And, still we're "at it." Sometimes I have asked myself why this is so. Why are we still researching certain technologies after 15 years or more? Why does the structure of our R&D program not look much different from year to year? In order to answer these and related questions, we are, in fact, currently assessing the performance of our program elements against technology objectives set 15 years ago, and defining the impact of each in solving important technical barriers, and in promoting the national goal of increased geothermal use. From this retrospective analysis we are redefining the goals and objectives for our future R8D program. We have developed three levels of quantitative objectives from this exercise: Level I reflecting goals for, and anticipated impacts of, the overall R&D program categories upon the cost of power from geothermal energy systems. Level I1 reflecting estimates of the impacts of the R&D on the performance and costs of the.major subsystems of a geothermal energy development project, thus providing an overview of R&D program balance across the geothermal techno1 ogies. Level 111 objectives providing the mechanisms for assessing the progress of research elements, or groups of R&D el ement s . As our assessment nears completion, I will look forward to an opportunity to discuss it with you and soliciting your valuable inputs . Today however, I shall undertake to bring you up-to-date on the current emphasis of the various elements of our R&D program. Due to the limits on space and time on my presentation, this will necessarily be limited to an overview, as the title suggests.

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