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President Obama: US$467m for geothermal and solar energy

President Obama has pledged over US$467 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to expand and accelerate the development, deployment, and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the USA.

“We have a choice. We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of clean energy,” President Obama said last week. “We can hand over the jobs of the future to our competitors, or we can confront what they have already recognised as the great opportunity of our time: the nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy. That’s the nation I want America to be.”

"We have an ambitious agenda to put millions of people to work by investing in clean energy technology like solar and geothermal energy,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu added. “These technologies represent two pieces of a broad energy portfolio that will help us aggressively fight climate change and renew our position as a global leader in clean energy jobs.”


The Recovery Act makes US$350m investment in geothermal available. The Recovery Act funding will support projects in the four areas:

  • Geothermal demonstration projects (US$140m): support demonstrations of technologies to advance geothermal energy in new geographic areas, as well as geothermal energy production from oil and natural gas fields, geopressured fields, and low to moderate temperature geothermal resources.
  • Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) research and development (US$80m): support research of EGS technology to allow geothermal power generation across the USA. Research and development is needed to demonstrate this geothermal technology’s readiness in the near-term.
  • Innovative exploration techniques (US$100m): support projects that include exploration, siting, drilling, and characterisation of a series of exploration wells utilising new exploration techniques. The Department of Energy (DoE) hopes to help reduce the level of upfront risk for the private sector, allowing for increased investment and discovery of new geothermal resources with this funding.
  • A National Geothermal Data System, Resource Assessment and Classification System (US$30m): To fully leverage new low-temperature, geopressured, co-production, and EGS technologies, DoE will support a nationwide assessment of geothermal resources. The development of a nationwide data system to make resource data available to academia, researchers, and the private sector, and a geothermal resource classification system for use in determining site potential will also be supported by DoE.

Solar energy

DoE says it will provide US$117.6m in Recovery Act funding to accelerate widespread commercialisation of clean solar energy technologies across America:

  • Photovoltaic Technology Development (US$51.5m): DoE will expand investment in advanced photovoltaic (PV) concepts and high impact technologies, with the aim of making solar energy cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity and to strengthen the competitiveness and capabilities of domestic manufacturers.
  • Solar Energy Deployment (US$40.5m): Projects in this area will focus on non-technical barriers to solar energy deployment, including grid connection, market barriers to solar energy adoption in cities, and the shortage of trained solar energy installers.
  • Concentrating Solar Power Research and Development (US$25.6m): This work will focus on improving the reliability of concentrating solar power technologies and enhancing the capabilities of DoE National Laboratories to provide test and evaluation support to the solar industry.

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Geothermal  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity