Energy Department makes $13M investment into geothermal in effort to 'decarbonize' US energy supply

One report estimates the pricetag to install geothermal systems could run upwards of $45,000 per home.

Published: April 26, 2023 3:43pm

The Energy Department is investing $13 million into exploring the use of geothermal energy, as another step in the Biden administration trying to move the country away fossil fuel.

Geothermal is energy derived from the Earth’s crust and can be harnessed for such uses as cooking, bathing, space heating and electrical power generation.

In the announcement, the agency said it selected 11 communities in 10 states to design community geothermal heating and cooling systems "in hopes that it can help American cities across the country meet their energy needs, drive down costs, create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The process is essentially to tap into the earth’s subsurface to provide heating and cooling to multiple residences and businesses through an underground distribution network – with technology like heat pumps and naturally-produced hot water, the agency said.

The agency also said such technology can provide low-carbon heating and cooling for buildings while "supporting decarbonization" in the electricity sector.

However, the cost of producing geothermal energy remains high.

According to the renewable energy marketplace EnergySage, the upfront cost of building a geothermal energy plant would be $4,000-$6,000 per kilowatt-hour, three- or four-times more than the cost of a solar energy plant at the same scale.

The difference is reportedly due to the difficulty and cost of drilling deep into the earth to access geothermal reservoirs.

A geothermal FAQ on the agency's  website shows the developing geothermal technology will come with "significant up-front." price tags. 

ClimateMaster reported in 2021 that on averag installing a full geothermal system in a home would cost $18,000 to $30,000 for the owner or $45,000 when including high-end ground-source heat pump systems for large homes.

Follow Addison on Twitter.

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News