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For Instructors


NREL knows first-hand how important research and writing skills are for graduates to get ahead in the world today. The best preparation for today's job market is a combination of academic and practical experience. By integrating the Geothermal Exploration Case Study Challenge into new and existing coursework, we hope to inspire more widespread development of a comprehensive curriculum that will not only introduce university students to the exploration, development, and utilization of geothermal resources but also help students gain valuable career skills, including problem-solving and the ability to collaborate successfully with academic researchers, experts, and stakeholders.


Participating student groups will produce a case study detailing the exploration, development (where applicable), and geologic history of selected U.S. geothermal resource areas as a part of the final assessment of their coursework. As a part of this research, students will also evaluate the effectiveness of different exploration activities conducted at their chosen site, for both operating and non-developed geothermal areas. This collection of information will add to the data available from the 14 existing case studies currently published on OpenEI. The goal is for these case studies to be used in future analyses to compare and contrast exploration techniques that were helpful in identifying and delineating resources with similar conceptual models. These data could aid in developing future exploration plans in undiscovered areas in the United States.

Examples of Completed Case Studies

Fourteen case studies have been completed so far—please review some of them to gain an idea of how the finalized product should look:

Instructor Involvement

Professors are expected to work with and guide students throughout the research process. In some cases, the Geothermal Exploration Case Study may be the first college-level research project a student has worked on, and will require them to develop effective research and organizational habits.

Help Guide

NREL has provided a PowerPoint presentation that may be used to explain the Geothermal Case Study Challenge and introduce OpenEI. To print information from the CSA website, use the "Print PDF" button at the top of each page.

While we expect that course content will depend primarily on the instructor’s expertise and the school’s degree program requirements, we realize geothermal may be a new subject to some professors to teach. Professors should attempt to introduce students to topics that will broaden their understanding of geothermal exploration/utilization and help them complete their final projects. Topics that we recommend be introduced include:

  • Introduction to Geothermal Energy
  • Exploration Methods and Techniques
  • Types of Geothermal Systems
  • Geothermal Utilization and Energy Production

Additional Resources

Includes information on geothermal resource areas, exploration techniques, and extraction technologies.
The Geothermal Education Office (GEO) offers an introductory curriculum to geothermal energy appropriate for general audiences. A complete set of powerpoint slides is available on the website for download, and additional course materials (including lecture scripts) can be purchased on CD for $24. Professors wishing to use the GEO curriculum as a template for their courses should cover (at minimum) the material included in the Geology, Exploration & Drilling, Generation of Electricity, Use of Geothermal in the U.S., and Energy & the Environment sections of the presentation to ensure adequate coverage of topics relevant to the project.
Includes documents and videos that could be used as supplements in introducing geothermal energy.
Includes several documents and presentations that contain useful information on geothermal utilization and development in different global regions. Data may be used to supplement existing presentations/lectures.