MIT Energy Initiative

The Future of Geothermal Energy

Recent national focus on the value of increasing our supply of indigenous, renewable energy underscores the need for reevaluating all alternatives, particularly those that are large and well- distributed nationally. This analysis will help determine how we can enlarge and diversify the portfolio of options we should be vigorously pursuing. One such option that is often ignored is geothermal energy, produced from both conventional hydrothermal and Enhanced (or engineered) Geothermal Systems (EGS). An 18-member assessment panel was assembled in September 2005 to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of EGS becoming a major supplier of primary energy for U.S. base-load generation capacity by 2050. This report documents the work of the panel at three separate levels of detail. The first is a Synopsis, which provides a brief overview of the scope, motivation, approach, major findings, and recommendations of the panel. At the second level, an Executive Summary reviews each component of the study, providing major results and findings. The third level provides full documentation in eight chapters, with each detailing the scope, approach, and results of the analysis and modeling conducted in each area.

Study Participants

Jefferson Tester Chair and H.P. Meissner Professor of Chemical Engineering Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Brian Anderson Assistant Professor; Verl Purdy Faculty Fellow of Chemical Engineering West Virginia University
Anthony Batchelor Chairman and Managing Director, GeoScience Limited; Former Director, U.K. Hot Dry Rock Geothermal Project, Camborne School of Mines
David Blackwell W.B. Hamilton Professor of Geophysics Southern Methodist University
Ronald DiPippo Chancellor Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering; Former Associate Dean of Engineering University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Elisabeth Drake Emeritus Associate Director for New Technologies MIT Energy Lab
John Garnish Geothermal and CO2 Sequestration Consultant; Chairman Soultz-sous-Forets Scientific Advisory Panel
Bill Livesay Drilling Engineering Consultant
Michal Moore Senior Fellow, Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment, and Economy, University of Calgary; Former Chief Economist, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Kenneth Nichols CEO Emeritus Barber Nichols Inc.
Susan Petty Principal Black Mountain Technology
M. Nafi Toksöz Robert R. Shrock Professor of Geophysics; Founder and Former Director Earth Resources Laboratory, MIT
Ralph Veatch, Jr President, Software Enterprises Inc.; Former supervisor of hydraulic fracturing and well completions, Amoco Production Co.
Roy Baria Reservoir Geophysics Consultant, MIL-TECH UK; Former Deputy Director, U.K. Geothermal Project at Rosemanowes, and Scientist in Charge at Soultz

Student Research Assistants

Chad Augustine Research Assistant Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Enda Murphy Research Assistant Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT
Petru Negraru Postdoctoral Researcher Geophysics and Geothermal Laboratory, Southern Methodist University
Maria Richards Research Associate Geothermal Laboratory, Southern Methodist University