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Explore the potential of superhot rock geothermal energy

Superhot rock geothermal energy is a visionary energy source deserving of investment, and yet almost entirely unrecognized in the decarbonization debate.

Technological innovation will allow us to access this energy, which has the potential to meet long-term demands for zero-carbon, always-on power, and can generate hydrogen for transportation fuel and other applications. Unlocking the potential of this energy source could expand our options to transform the energy system.

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What is superhot rock energy?

Superhot rock energy could play a big role in transforming the energy system as a vital part of
a prosperous, carbon-free global economy. 

The value of superhot rock energy

With the right funding and policy support, superhot rock energy
could revolutionize the global energy system.  

Strengthens energy systems

Benefits U.S. economy

Superhot rock icon

Safe and renewable

  • Cost-competitive power
  • Inexhaustible resource
  • Available 24/7 firm power
  • Can generate zero-carbon fuels
  • Accessible worldwide with super deep drilling innovation 
  • Increased grid resiliency 
  • Protects U.S. energy security 
  • Expanded use of fossil workforce and technology 
  • Creates U.S. jobs which cannot be offshored 
  • Leadership potential for U.S. industry 
  • Potential to repower fossil power plants 
  • Zero-carbon technology at the point of production 
  • Making communities safer and healthier 
  • Energy-dense with a small land footprint 
  • Efficient use of transmission resources 

How does superhot rock energy work?

Superhot rock energy is an emerging energy source that will harness massive stores of renewable energy by pumping water deep into hot underground rocks, where it naturally heats up and then returns to the surface as steam. That steam could be used to produce carbon-free electricity, clean hydrogen, and other high-energy-intensity products. 

Traditional geothermal systems in operation today only work in regions where hot water naturally exists near the earth’s surface. By contrast, superhot rock energy systems will reach kilometers deeper into the earth and don’t require underground sources of water, making them viable across the globe. 

Superhot rock energy will provide always-on clean firm energy with a capacity factor of 90% or higher. It will also have a low land footprint compared to other sources of energy. And it is available around the world. 

With appropriate investment to overcome technological hurdles, superhot rock energy could reach commercial scale and potentially compete with unsubsidized market prices. Furthermore, the research necessary to fully utilize this energy does not require a scientific breakthrough, rather it requires concerted engineering practice and iteration in the field. If this is achieved, superhot rock energy could provide clean firm power at scale without the import risk and land-use footprint of other energy sources. 

Superhot rock heat endowment and project map

This new, first-of-its-kind modeling tool highlights the vast energy potential of superhot rock geothermal energy. 

Developed by Clean Air Task Force in collaboration with the University of Twente, the publicly accessible and transparent global model explores the case for commercializing superhot rock energy by estimating the technology’s energy potential around the world.   

The release of the report, “Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Next-Generation Geothermal Power”, by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) marks a pivotal moment in the recognition of geothermal innovation as a cornerstone for accelerating global decarbonization. This will be the seventh liftoff report in the series published by the DOE. These reports are important resources that are focused on commercialization pathways for promising climate technologies and are designed to be periodically updated to address evolving market, technology, and policy environments.

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