The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected a site near Fallon for its Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE), and $2 million in federal funds to launch the ground-breaking research project.

Talking Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) with Rachel Dahl and James Faulds


What is the purpose of the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE)?  

The main purpose is create a laboratory to conduct experiments on how to produce an engineered geothermal systems (EGS).   


Why was Churchill County, Nevada chosen as a site for FORGE? 

Feasibility. The area has the right combination of heat, appropriate rock types and permeability. This has been well established by the drilling of about 45 wells on the Naval Air Station Fallon and adjacent Ormat lease lands over the past several decades.


What were the challenges of having a FORGE location in Churchill County? 

We had to be sure that the FORGE activities would not interfere with Naval Air Station Fallon operations. The Navy was very cooperative in discussing this so that the project can avoid any impact on their operations. 


Please explain the technologies and systems that will come into play with this project? 

The project will involve the most advanced drilling technologies and innovative techniques that image the subsurface. It will also involve very sophisticated techniques of 3D modeling of the subsurface.


What is the timeline and general project outline to completion? 

Phase One will be completed within a year.  The five funded projects across the country will then be down-selected to three locations for a Phase Two, which will also span about a year. One site will then be selected for the observatory—this observatory is expected to be operating for about 5-6 years.


How much geothermal energy is expected to come out of this location? 

Probably not much at the site itself. The project goal is to advance research on how to generate engineered geothermal systems. However, the potential impacts of this project on facilitating geothermal energy production elsewhere are huge.


Is the project scalable to provide more energy in the future?  

Not directly, but lessons learned at the site could greatly enhance production of geothermal energy from elsewhere in Churchill County, Nevada, and other locations. 


Who will have access to the research conducted?  

Nearly all results will be fully accessible to the public - a huge industry asset.




About Rachel Dahl
A sixth generation Nevadan, Rachel Dahl currently serves as the Executive Director of Churchill Economic Development Authority. For more information visit


About James Faulds
James Faulds is a research professor at the University of Nevada, Reno for the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology. 



The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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