Seeing how Stoel Rives is a Silver Sponsor of the Geothermal Energy Expo, held in Reno until October 7, 2009, it appears timely to talk about some geothermal energy news (click here for conference details, come by and see us at booth #520).

On October 2, 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Geothermal Research Initiative, a program to demonstrate low temperature geothermal electrical power generation systems using oilfield fluids produced at the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center. This program is moving forward as a collaboration between the Office of Fossil Energy and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Program.

The Geothermal Research Initiative will demonstrate the versatility, reliability, and deployment opportunities which utilize the co-produced water from oilfield operations. These systems are designed to offset the electricity usage of the oilfield while also creating a second use for water which would otherwise be discarded. The DOE believes that the co-produced water can become a significant energy resource with an estimated 10 barrels of hot water being produced along with each barrel of oil in the United States.

The program will produce operational and performance data which will be freely available to the public. The goal of the program is to educate industry and the public about the potential for geothermal energy production from co-produced water and establish the best systems for particular climates.