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Dobson Addresses Congressional Audience on Geothermal Energy

Source:  Pat Dobson

Dobson_onlyOn Wed. Jan. 29, 2014, ESD’s Pat Dobson was one of three speakers on the topic of “Geothermal Energy Transformations: Nationwide Resources and Value Chains,” as part of the Energy from the Earth Briefing Series in Washington D.C. These presentations, which took place at the Dirksen Senate Office Building and the Longworth House Office Building, were the second part of a series of talks hosted by a number of U.S. scientific agencies (including the National Science Foundation, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, and several other U.S. geological professional societies). The presentations were intended to provide Congressional staff members with information essential for developing effective Federal energy and environmental policy-making and legislation.

Doug Hollett, the head of the DOE Geothermal Technologies Office, moderated the presentations for this geothermal energy briefing. The two other speakers besides Dobson were Chad Augustine, of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Prof. Brian Anderson, of West Virginia University.

Geothermal energy could be a significant source of clean power for the United States. With that in mind, the speakers discussed the essential characteristics of conventional hydrothermal systems, enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), and direct uses of geothermal energy. The presentations highlighted the current state of geothermal power development in the U.S., and discussed the potential resource base for conventional hydrothermal, unconventional sources such as EGS, sedimentary basins, coproduced fluids, and geopressurized systems, as well as the direct use of geothermal fluids. The key technological barriers associated with reducing the risk and cost of exploring for and developing these resources were also discussed.  

The presentations were well attended;  included in the audience were ESD Director Susan Hubbard and Deputy Director Jens Birkholzer.  A question-and-answer session following the presentations addressed topics such as how regulatory and permitting barriers could be removed, what types of technological developments would have the greatest impact on geothermal development, what kinds of financial incentives could help stimulate the geothermal industry, how could other industries (such as the oil and gas sector) be engaged, and what are the environmental risks associated with expanded geothermal development.

Copies of the presentations from this event, and information on the November 2013 event and future presentations in this series can be found at: