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Colorado awards $7.7 million in grants to harvest energy from earth’s inner core

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(The Center Square) – Colorado is awarding millions in grants for organizations to find ways to access energy from the earth’s inner core.

Approximately 35 projects will receive $7.7 million in grants from the Geothermal Energy Grant Program, funded with money transferred from the state’s general fund.

Approximately $3.57 million will go toward an initial study, a design study and building thermal energy networks. Approximately $3.22 million will be used to fund a confirmation study, drilling and testing.

The funds will be awarded after state contracting requirements and timelines are met, along with the project permitting and public engagement processes.

The funding was created through House Bill 22-1381 and transferred $12 million from the state’s general fund to the Geothermal Energy Grant Fund during fiscal year 2022-2023. From this fiscal year through 2025-2025, the bill increases state expenditures to the Colorado Energy Office by $5 million annually to the grant program.

“Geothermal energy, the heat beneath our feet, is an underutilized resource that can save people money on energy and improve air quality,” Democrat Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement announcing the grants. “Colorado is already a national leader in low-cost renewable energy, and now with these grants, we are supporting more geothermal energy across the state.”

SIMCOE, LLC, and Geothermal Technologies, Inc. each received $1 million in awards. SIMCOE’s Florida Mesa Geothermal Project will develop an enhanced geothermal system blending existing coalbed methane recovery infrastructure with advanced technology and data analytics, according to information from the Colorado Energy Office.

“The successful deployment of this project can help unlock geothermal energy potential across southwest Colorado, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions, foster energy resilience, and creating regional economic and job opportunities,” according to the award statement.

Geothermal Technologies, Inc., will conduct a drilling and confirmation testing phase for a 3.2-megawatt geothermal power plant located at the Longs Peak Dairy in Weld County.

“Upon successful demonstration, the facility aims to expand to a 20-megawatt facility with the potential of expanding to 180- to 200-megawatt capacity,” according to the award statement. “The electricity project will be one of the first geothermal energy demonstrations in Colorado, enabling greater adoption of emerging technologies while providing opportunities for the oil and gas industry in the region.”

The University of Colorado will receive $675,000 for two projects. Approximately $500,000 will be used to fund schematic designs for energy networks at the Boulder campus.

“The project aims to decarbonize their heating and cooling systems on campus, representing more than 12 million square feet of conditioned space,” according to the grant summaries.

Approximately $175,000 will go for a geothermal electricity feasibility study on implementing a technology for deep geothermal potential at all its campuses.

“This study aligns with CU Boulder’s climate goals, aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050, and offers a promising transition model to move away from fossil fuels to emissions-free electricity generation. The project also aims to evaluate the integration of shallow geothermal solutions for its thermal energy network analysis.”

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