HotRock to Take Geothermal Anywhere

Rh Geothermal
A geothermal map of Texas shows that many oil and gas basins also have geothermal potential.

The Bureau of Economic Geology is launching a new industrial affiliates program to spur the potential development of geothermal energy in a wide variety of settings.

Called HotRock, the new multidisciplinary research program officially kicks off Dec. 1, 2022, with the goal of developing “geothermal anywhere.” HotRock will specialize in geothermal resource assessment, production, seismicity, exploration and development methodologies, and economic development.

“The new paradigm of ‘geothermal anywhere’ is a very different animal from the established geothermal industry, which is limited to tectonically active areas of the world,” said principal investigator Ken Wisian, who is also the associate director of the bureau’s environmental division.

HotRock will explore the new geothermal anywhere paradigm, which uses advanced technology to produce geothermal energy from subtle heat reservoirs, including many oil- and gas-producing sedimentary basins. Member companies will gain access to research results ahead of publication, the opportunity to recommend lines of research, and the opportunity to collaborate in research when appropriate.

The bureau conducted foundational research into geothermal power in the Gulf region during the 1970s and ’80s and is currently conducting projects to deploy geothermal in Texas. Director Scott Tinker said he has seen interest in geothermal with the need for carbon-free baseload power. The bureau, he said, is well positioned to lead this mission.

“There are several challenges when considering low-emissions power, including scalability, affordability and reliability,” Tinker said. “Europe, California and Texas are teaching us what happens when policy tries to circumvent physics and economics. All of these challenges must be satisfied to have an impact. Natural gas and/or hydrogen with carbon capture replacing coal, nuclear, hydro and geothermal lead the pack.

”Bureau research associate Shuvajit Bhattacharya is co-principal investigator. HotRock is expected to support four to five research scientists and two graduate students. Membership is $75,000 a year.

For more information, contact Ken Wisian at

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