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Geothermal Exploration Policy Mechanisms: Lessons for the United States from International Applications


National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)


Bethany Speer

Ryan Economy

Travis Lowder

Paul Schwabe

Scott Regenthal


1 May 2014

This report analyses policy mechanisms employed internationally to encourage exploration for geothermal resources, and it assesses their potential applicability to the U.S. geothermal market. The study focuses on five of the policy types that are most relevant and applicable to the U.S. market and political context for the exploration and confirmation of conventional hydrothermal (geothermal) resources in the United States: drilling failure insurance, loan guarantees, subsidized loans, capital subsidies, and government-led exploration. It offers policymakers a guide for drafting geothermal support mechanisms for the exploration-drilling phase of geothermal development.