10 Years of Industry-Changing Influence

The Geothermal Data Repository celebrates a double-digit milestone

Aug. 5, 2022 | Contact media relations

10 years GDR logo

Over 10 years and more than 2.6 million downloads later, the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Geothermal Data Repository (GDR) has taken the geothermal field from siloed science to becoming an industry leader in the open data movement.

Origin Story

What started as a simple data hub in 2012 has turned into an invaluable repository for information and innovation at the heart of the geothermal industry.

"Before the GDR, geothermal scientists stored their data privately, potentially duplicating efforts and blocking discoveries," said Jon Weers, GDR co-creator and lead data systems architect at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). "Ten years after its launch, the support and ideas scientists collectively shared have turned the GDR into the groundbreaking tool it is today."

He adds that the entire geothermal scientific community truly deserves appreciation for its success. The support and ideas scientists collectively shared have guided the development of the GDR into the tool it is today.

An aerial image of a geothermal plant with mountains in the background.
A geothermal plant in Washoe County, Nevada. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

Look Out, Wikipedia

Organizations across the globe now upload their geothermal data into the repository for anyone to freely access. The GDR also syncs with hundreds of scientific search engines, ensuring geothermal data is easy to find. As of 2022, the GDR is home to 5,093 resources from 74 different organizations and over 135 terabytes of data—more than four times the size of Wikipedia.

There have been more than 2.6 million downloads from the GDR to date, but the volume of downloads may not even be what leads to the biggest impact. One of the many GDR success stories over the years was the time that just two downloads turned into millions of dollars in funding.

"A bank in Europe used the GDR to download information that later led to successful underwriting for construction of a renewable energy, zero-emission, geothermal powerplant," Weers said. "That data would have been much harder to find without the repository."

Open Data, Open Doors

The GDR is also leveling the playing field, advancing energy equity and creating more trust in global data sharing.

"Previously, you had to have some sort of supercomputer on premises to even play with certain geothermal data," he said. "By providing universal, cloud-based access to geothermal data, the GDR has opened the door for DOE to collaborate with smaller universities and high school students, underprivileged communities, and startup companies. It's leading to entirely new sources of innovation."

Weers and fellow NREL colleagues Arlene Anderson and Nicole Taverna reported in the GDR 10-year anniversary report how the repository maintains its momentum by protecting DOE research investments and ensuring consistent open access, making collaborative data sharing easier, and preserving data by unburdening the entire submission and management process.

DOE strategic plans have stated, "Success should be measured not when a project is completed or an experiment is concluded, but when scientific and technical information is disseminated."

"I love that quote because it's basically saying you're not done unless you've told somebody about it," Weers said. "Submitting data to the GDR is like publishing in 25 journals all at once. It's a great way to get your work out there in front of the entire scientific community."

Infographic with text reading the Geothermal Data Repository is celebrating 10 years of data sharing and growth in 2022. Launching in 2012 to create open access for geothermal data, the GDR has now become a flagship data repository that other groups seek to emulate. The GDR boasts 135 TB of data, equal to 4.09 Wikipedias or 1.8 billion books. 2,604,134 total downloads. 5,093 total resources. Top 5 downloads to date are: 1. PoroTomo Natural Laboratory Horizontal and Vertical Distributed Acoustic Sensing Data. 2. Brady's Geothermal Field - March 2016 Vibroseis SEG-Y Files and UTM Locations. 3. Brady's Geothermal Field Nodal Seismometer Data 4. Brady's Geothermal Field DASH Resampled in Time 5. Evaluation Data of a High Temperature COTS Flash Memory Module for Use in Geothermal Electronics Packages
The Geothermal Data Repository has taken the geothermal field from siloed science to becoming an industry leader in the open data movement.

For more information on the latest geothermal research and opportunities, visit Energy.gov or the Geothermal Research page on NREL.gov.