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Program Assessment


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Geothermal Technology

This program aims to expand the use of geothermal energy resources -- heat, hot water, and steam in the earth. It funds research to reduce the cost of harnessing geothermal power and provides technical assistance to State and local governments and private companies to help them develop geothermal resources.


What This Rating Means

Moderately Effective

In general, a program rated Moderately Effective has set ambitious goals and is well-managed. Moderately Effective programs likely need to improve their efficiency or address other problems in the programs' design or management in order to achieve better results.
  • In 2000, the National Research Council found that the program had contributed to the development of advanced drilling technologies. These technologies lowered costs of geothermal power production and expanded the nation's geothermal resource base for competitive power production.
  • EPAct of 2005 includes incentives that should increase development of geothermal resources in the near-term. These changes include extension of a production tax credit, streamlined geothermal leasing, and royalty payments to local governments for geothermal development on Federally leased land. The Act also directs the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct a detailed geothermal resource assessment.
  • This program and other applied research and development programs at the Department of Energy are working to improve their estimates of potential program benefits and use that information to guide budget decisions. The program has made significant progress, but estimates are not yet comparable between programs.

Improvement Plan

About Improvement Plans

We are taking the following actions to improve the performance of the program:

  • Focusing resources on higher priority renewable energy research and development programs. Changes to the law in 2005 should promote geothermal resource development.
  • Developing guidance that specifies a consistent framework for analyzing the costs and benefits of research and development investments, and using this information to guide budget decisions.

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