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42 U.S. Code § 17195a - Geothermal heat pumps and direct use research and development

(a) PurposesThe purposes of this section are—
to improve the understanding of related earth sciences, components, processes, and systems used for geothermal heat pumps and the direct use of geothermal energy; and
to increase the energy efficiency, lower the cost, increase the use, and improve and demonstrate the effectiveness of geothermal heat pumps and the direct use of geothermal energy.
(b) DefinitionsIn this section:
(1) Direct use of geothermal energyThe term “direct use of geothermal energy” means geothermal systems that use water directly or through a heat exchanger to provide—
heating and cooling to buildings, commercial districts, residential communities, and large municipal, or industrial projects; or
heat required for industrial processes, agriculture, aquaculture, and other facilities.
(2) Economically distressed area

The term “economically distressed area” means an area described in section 3161(a) of this title.

(3) Geothermal heat pumpThe term “geothermal heat pump” means a system that provides heating and cooling by exchanging heat from shallow geology, groundwater, or surface water using—
a closed loop system, which transfers heat by way of buried or immersed pipes that contain a mix of water and working fluid; or
an open loop system, which circulates ground or surface water directly into the building and returns the water to the same aquifer or surface water source.
(c) Program
(1) In general

The Secretary shall support within the Geothermal Technologies Office a program of research, development, and demonstration for geothermal heat pumps and the direct use of geothermal energy.

(2) AreasThe program under paragraph (1) may include research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of—
geothermal ground loop efficiency improvements, cost reductions, and improved installation and operations methods;
the use of geothermal energy for building-scale energy storage;
the use of geothermal energy as a grid management resource or seasonal energy storage;
geothermal heat pump efficiency improvements;
the use of alternative fluids as a heat exchange medium, such as hot water found in mines and mine shafts, graywater, or other fluids that may improve the economics of geothermal heat pumps;
heating of districts, neighborhoods, communities, large commercial or public buildings, and industrial and manufacturing facilities;
the use of low temperature groundwater for direct use; and
system integration of direct use with geothermal electricity production.
(3) Environmental impacts

In carrying out the program, the Secretary shall identify and mitigate potential environmental impacts in accordance with section 17193(b) of this title.

(d) Financial assistance
(1) In general

The Secretary shall carry out the program established in subsection (c) by making financial assistance available to State, local, and Tribal governments, institutions of higher education, nonprofit entities, National Laboratories, utilities, and for-profit companies.

(2) Priority

In providing financial assistance under this subsection, the Secretary may give priority to proposals that apply to large buildings, commercial districts, and residential communities that are located in economically distressed areas and areas that the Secretary determines to have high economic potential for geothermal district heating based on the report, “Geovision: Harnessing the Heat Beneath our Feet” published by the Department in 2019, or a successor report.