The Dept. of Energy’s Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) effort has entered Phase 2 with DOE’s announcement of a $29-million investment in enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).

Two teams—one at Sandia National Laboratories in Fallon, Nev., the other at the University of Utah in Milford, Utah—will share the investment to fully instrument, characterize and permit candidate sites for an underground laboratory to conduct cutting-edge research on the technology.

In EGS, water is injected into fractured deep bedrock to be heated to steam to drive a turbine on the surface, then reinjected in a closed loop. It exploits geothermal energy where there is no naturally occurring geothermal resource. A 2006 MIT report for Idaho National Laboratory found that EGS has the potential in the U.S. to generate 100,000 MW of additional electrical capacity competitively by 2050.

In Phase 3, one team will be funded for full implementation of FORGE at a single site.