R&D efforts are focused on ways to enhance the productivity of geothermal reservoirs and to use more marginal areas, such as those that have ample heat but are only slightly permeable to water. More complex geothermal systems, including hot dry rock, are in the research phase. To extract energy from hot dry rock, water is injected from the surface through bore holes into hot granite rock underground. The water heats as it flows through cracks in the granite and, when it returns to the surface, the super-heated steam is used to generate electricity. R&D for new approaches, for improving conventional approaches and for producing smaller modular units will allow economies of scale in plant manufacturing.
Several technical issues need further government-funded research and close government collaboration with industry if the exploitation of geothermal resources is to become more attractive to investors. These issues are mainly related to the exploration and enhancement of reservoirs, drilling and power-generation technology, in particular for the exploitation of low-temperature geothermal resources.
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