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Geothermal Project Consulting

When consulting on projects, NREL focuses on identifying specific barriers or challenges that are likely to impact geothermal project development and deployment.


NREL provides technical support to:

  • Encourage the development, validation, and deployment of geothermal technologies
  • Assess and evaluate geothermal R&D projects
  • Evaluate the feasibility of new and innovative geothermal applications.

Electricity Supply and Demand

NREL developed and maintains the U.S. geothermal electricity generation supply curves used to characterize the technical and commercial potential of geothermal resources. They are used in market penetration models of present electricity generation infrastructure and future demand of electricity in the United States and predict how that demand will be fulfilled, usually by competing a portfolio of electricity generation technologies against each other so that the lowest-cost resources are deployed first. The model NREL primarily uses is the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS).

NREL has provided input and expert advice on geothermal resources for such models in studies such as:

Regulatory and Permitting

Uncertainty about the duration and outcome of a geothermal project permitting process can be a barrier and deterrent to investment in geothermal projects. Our deep understating of regulatory and permitting issues across the United States has led to the development of NREL's Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) Toolkit.

The RAPID Toolkit helps facilitate communications between project developers and permitting agency personnel at all jurisdiction levels and among all project stakeholders, including the public.

Learn more about the RAPID Toolkit.

Photo of a man with a hard hat on inspecting drill pipes at a geothermal project site.

Project Development Soft Costs

As part of the GeoVision Study, NREL is conducting analysis of nontechnical barriers that create delays, and increase the risk and cost of project development. We analyze the impact that logistics, land access, permitting, transmission, and market barriers may have on geothermal electric generation and the ability to obtain a power purchase agreement. Soft costs are expenses that are not considered direct construction costs and, while only a small fraction of the total geothermal project cost, can become critical barriers in the form of delaying or preventing project development.

Policy Guidance

For implementing geothermal policies, NREL has identified five steps that may reduce barriers and result in deployment and implementation of geothermal technologies that can be used for electricity generation, such as conventional hydrothermal, enhanced geothermal systems , geopressured, co-production, and low-temperature geothermal resources. See the Policymakers' Guidebook for Geothermal Electricity Generation.

Developing policy that reduces barriers and results in market deployment will lead to greater implementation of geothermal heating and cooling technologies. NREL provides helpful resources and a five step procedure for implementation geothermal policy. See the Policymakers' Guidebook for Geothermal Heating and Cooling Technologies.

Photo of an electricity transmission tower and a blue sky.

Social Acceptance and Education

Success in project development depends upon the attitude of affected stakeholders, including affected members of the public, policymakers and market actors. Many of the barriers for achieving successful renewable projects at the implementation level can be considered as a manifestation of lack of social acceptance. NREL works to understand public attitudes towards geothermal development and identifies best practices for improving communication and understanding of these technologies.

Photo of a geothermal well drill with cable rig installing a residential heat exchanger.

Financing Guidance

NREL also offers guidance to developers and investors on how they can innovate in new ways and develop partnerships that match investors' risk tolerance with the capital requirements of geothermal power projects in a dynamic and evolving marketplace. See the Guidebook to Geothermal Power Finance.

We can help identify and eliminate barriers for geothermal projects.

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