Washington, D.C., May 27 -- President Obama announced that more $467 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act will go to expand the development, deployment, and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the United States. The funding will be used to help the industries overcome technical barriers, demonstrate new technologies, and provide support for clean-energy jobs.
"We can remain the world's leading importer of oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of clean energy," the president said in a statement. "We can hand over the jobs of the future to our competitors, or we can confront what they have already recognized as the great opportunity.”
Energy Secretary Steven Chu also said in a statement that solar and geothermal energies “represent two pieces of a broad energy portfolio that will help us aggressively fight climate change.”
Geothermal energy is a clean source of renewable energy that harnesses heat from the earth for heating and cooling applications and electricity generation. Commercial geothermal plants can operate around the clock to provide significant uninterrupted "base load" electricity, or the minimum amount a power utility must provide to its customers, government officials said.
The Recovery Act makes a $350 million new investment in this technology, dwarfing previous government commitments. The funding will support projects in four areas: geothermal demonstration projects; Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) research and development; innovative exploration techniques; and a National Geothermal Data System, Resource Assessment, and Classification System.
Solar energy is an expanding industry with a double-digit annual growth rate, according to government officials. The Department of Energy is focused on supporting the U.S. industry's scaling up of manufacturing, production, and distribution so the technology can become cost competitive with conventional energy sources.
The DOE will provide $117.6 million in Recovery Act funding to accelerate widespread commercialization of solar energy, with the aim of making the technology cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity and to strengthen the competitiveness and capabilities of domestic manufacturers.