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Geothermal Exploration and Resource Assessment

NREL's research focuses on risk and cost reductions in geothermal exploration in surveying, drilling, and resource assessments and the widespread adoption of under-utilized low-temperature resources for electricity generation.

Photo of steam coming up from a hot spring in Steamboat springs.


To advance geothermal exploration and resource assessment methods, NREL's has expertise in:

  • Hydrothermal exploration analysis
  • Drilling technology
  • Geothermal resource assessment and reporting
  • Low-temperature geothermal resource technologies.


The drilling of wells to find and develop geothermal resources encounters special challenges, costs and risks due to extreme and complex geothermal environments. NREL conducts research with the Colorado School of Mines, for DOE, to transfer and adapt technologies and practices from petroleum drilling to geothermal drilling, with the objective of reducing geothermal drilling cost and risk, while also identifying geothermal practices of relevance to the petroleum industry as that industry targets more extreme drilling environments.


Resource Assessment and Reporting

Though it's the USGS mission to study the U.S. geothermal resource, NREL takes these geothermal studies further to understand the technical, economic, and market potential, and the demand for use of these resources. NREL reviews and analyzes the resource potential of nontraditional resources, such as low-temperature, sedimentary, co-produced, and enhanced geothermal system resources. We also work to standardize reporting to better understand available data and resource potential in the United States.

The Geothermal Resource Portfolio Optimization & Reporting Technique (GeoRePORT) provides a detailed system for reporting both the resource grade and the project readiness level, and is particularly useful for describing early-stage exploration projects. Learn more about GeoRePORT.

Low-Temperature Resources

NREL works to develop and deploy innovative new technologies that will help the geothermal community achieve widespread adoption of under-utilized low-temperature resources for electricity generation. Geothermal resources between 60°C -150°C can be used for low-temperature applications, such as distributed generation, industrial uses, space and water heating, agriculture, and balneology. NREL conducts analysis to better understand the location and nature of these resources, and the low-temperature demands in the United States.

Photo of a geothermal spring with greenhouse in the background.

We have expertise in geothermal exploration and resource assessment.

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