Occidental Petroleum and its partners have landed about $9 million in federal funding for a project aimed at lowering geothermal drilling costs, the U.S. Department of Energy said Dec. 14.

Called Geothermal Limitless Approach to Drilling Efficiencies (GLADE), the Denver-Julesburg Basin project entails drilling twin high-temperature geothermal wells using existing and novel drilling technologies, according to a news releases announcing the winners.

“The team plans to drill to deeper and hotter depths than most existing geothermal, and at a faster rate,” the release said.

The funds were awarded as the U.S. aims to increase use of geothermal energy, with sights set on the renewable energy source powering at least 40 million homes and contributing at least 60 gigawatts of electricity by 2050. 

Hopes are that technology advances — leveraging experience from the oil and gas industry — will help lower drilling costs and improve drilling rates that have slowed growth of geothermal.

“There is incredible, untapped potential to use the heat beneath our feet to meet our energy demands with a renewable resource that can be found throughout the U.S.,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “By lowering the cost of drilling, we can make it easier to expand geothermal energy and help the country transition to a clean energy future while also creating good-paying jobs nationwide.”

The Energy Department is eyeing projects by Occidental as well as another by Geysers Power Co. 

Geysers, along and its partners, plan to test drilling technology and methods in different temperatures and conditions.

The project could improve drilling rates by at least 25% and ultimately lower costs. Geysers’ project in California won $6.2 million in funding.