The United States, Australia and Iceland signed a charter on August 28 to launch the International Partnership for Geothermal Technology (IPGT), designed to foster and promote cutting-edge geothermal technologies, and help address energy security and address global climate change. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will work with Australia's Ministry of Resources, Energy, and Tourism and Iceland's Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Tourism to identify and encourage research, development and deployment projects critical to the widespread deployment of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) and deep drilling technologies.

“Enhanced geothermal systems have the potential to be the world’s only ever-present form of baseload renewable energy,” says DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs Katharine Fredriksen. “This international collaborative will bind the U.S., Australia and Iceland to work together to accelerate the development of geothermal energy, bringing this clean, domestic and natural energy to the market in the near-term to confront the serious challenges of climate change and energy security.”

The countries also will exchange best practices, support education and training programs, and share information on their work to promote understanding of geothermal technologies in different geologic settings. The IPGT is open to expansion, and may include members from other countries in the future.

EGS employs rock fracturing technologies in high-temperature geological formations deep underground, and it can be used either to create a geothermal reservoir of hot water or steam where none existed before, or to extend and enhance an existing geothermal reservoir. DOE is testing EGS technologies at a variety of locations in California and Nevada, while Iceland – known for its ample geothermal resources and significant geothermal development – is involved in a project to drill into high-temperature resources located about 3 miles below its surface. South Australia has ample high-temperature resources that will require EGS technologies to exploit. The Australian federal government runs a research project called Geoscience Australia, and more than a dozen companies are intending to develop EGS projects in South Australia.