U.S. Energy Dept to fund $84 million for geothermal energy

WASHINGTON Wed Mar 4, 2009 8:50pm GMT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department on Wednesday said it plans to provide up to $84 million in funding for geothermal energy projects.

The department said it plans to award as much as $35 million for 20 or 30 research proposals addressing development of advanced geothermal technology.

In addition, up to $49 million will be provided for five to 10 domestic projects demonstrating enhanced geothermal systems that generate at least 5 megawatts of electricity a year.

"President Obama has laid out an ambitious agenda to put millions of people to work by investing in clean energy technology like geothermal energy," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.

"The administration is committed to funding important research like this to transform the way we use and produce energy and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil," he added.

Obama has pledged that the United States will get 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources such as geothermal energy by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025.

Geothermal energy, from heat sources deep in the earth, can produce electricity with few carbon emissions, or can be used directly to heat buildings, greenhouses or other facilities.

The United States is the world leader in geothermal electricity generation. Some 29 geothermal power plants operate on federals lands, with total generating capacity of 1,250 megawatts, enough to power 1.2 million homes.

More information on applying for the department's funding for geothermal projects is available at www.grants.gov.

(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by David Gregorio)

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