Amends the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to require:
(1) the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to establish a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application for geothermal heat pumps and the direct use of geothermal energy; and
(2) the Assistant Secretary to identify and mitigate potential environmental impacts.
Authorizes the program to include research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of:
(1) geothermal ground loop efficiency improvements through more efficient heat transfer fluids or more efficient thermal grouts for wells and trenches;
(2) geothermal ground loop installation cost reduction through improved drilling methods, improvements in drilling equipment, improvements in design methodology and energy analysis procedures, and improved methods for determination of ground thermal properties and ground temperatures;
(3) installing geothermal ground loops near the foundation walls of new construction to take advantage of existing structures;
(4) using gray or black wastewater as a method of heat exchange;
(5) improving geothermal heat pump system economics through integration of geothermal systems with other building systems;
(6) advanced geothermal systems using variable pumping rates to increase efficiency;
(7) geothermal heat pump efficiency improvements;
(8) use of hot water found in mines and mine shafts and other surface waters as the heat exchange medium;
(9) heating of districts, neighborhoods, communities, large commercial or public buildings, and industrial and manufacturing facilities;
(10) geothermal system integration with solar thermal water heating or cool roofs and solar-regenerated desiccants to balance loads and use building hot water to store geothermal energy;
(11) use of hot water coproduced from oil and gas recovery;
(12) direct use of water sources at a temperature of less than 150 degrees Celsius;
(13) system integration of direct use with geothermal electricity production; and
(14) coproduction of heat and power, including on-site use.
Directs the Assistant Secretary to:
(1) make grants to state and local governments, institutions of higher education, nonprofit entities, utilities, and for-profit companies to promote the development of geothermal heat pumps and the direct use of geothermal energy;
(2) give priority to proposals that apply to large buildings, commercial districts, and residential communities;
(3) conduct a national solicitation for grant applications; and
(4) report on the progress made and results obtained under this Act to develop geothermal heat pumps and direct use of geothermal energy.
Authorizes appropriations for such program for FY2012-FY2016.