Related Posts for geothermal

By Richard M. Rosenblum, President and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Company | RenewableEnergyWorld:  Hawaii is one of the world’s premier travel destinations. However, if visitors look beyond the views of Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, palm trees and the blue Pacific, they’ll see a renewable energy transformation under way that could be a model for others around the world.

Imported fossil fuel, mostly oil, supplies 90 percent of Hawaii’s energy for transportation and electricity – the highest in the United States. Skyrocketing and volatile oil prices have impacted the cost of electricity. Clearly, Hawaii’s dependence on oil, which powered these islands for nearly a century, is unsustainable.

Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) is part of a broad public-private partnership to develop a clean energy future for these islands. Our partners include Hawaii’s people, the state and federal governments and the business and academic communities. Virtually everyone in Hawaii has a stake in our efforts and a voice in our course forward. The goal: reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported fossil fuel, lower and stabilize electricity bills for our customers, and protect our environment.

Whether it’s using “green” biofuels to produce power, leading the drive to adopt electric vehicles, drilling for more geothermal energy, integrating more solar and wind power, or testing the latest smart-grid advances, HECO and its subsidiaries are developing a broad portfolio of solutions to create a clean energy future for Hawaii.

What makes this more than a local “good news” story is that Hawaii is a perfect laboratory for developing new renewable energy technologies and the grid modernization needed to make them all work together.

Although it may not yet be apparent to everyone, our portfolio of renewables is growing. In 2010, the Solar Electric Power Association ranked HECO third in the United States for growth in solar power. Hawaii has more solar watts per customer than all but a few U.S. states. Read more

By Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska: When you’re trying to tap geothermal energy, for heating or electrical generation, you’ve got to consider a number of factors.

“The temperature is the obvious one. Flow rate is really important too,” says Gwen Holdmann, director of the University of Alaska’s Center for Power and Energy. She spoke at the recent Rural Alaska Energy Conference in Juneau.

“You might have a really high temperature resource and one good example that’s pretty close by here (Juneau) is Tenakee Springs. They have a fairly high temperature but they have an extremely low flow rate,” she says.

You also need to know the extent of the hot-water reservoir, its depth and the rate it recharges itself.

Another importation factor is location. Being close to a city or transmission lines make tapping power more affordable.

That’s why the Aleutian Islands city of Akutan, and the local Trident Seafoods plant, are looking at nearby Hot Springs Valley.

“We hit water as hot as 350 (degrees)-plus at 500 feet,” says Ray Mann, a consultant for the city of Akutan, northeast of Unalaska.

“But according to the studies that have been done that’s the outflow resource and we probably will not get the flow and the capacity we need. So we have to go further up the valley to the upflow zone. And the estimate is we could achieve anything between 15 and 100 megawatts, with a minimum of 8 megawatts, to provide power,” Mann says.

Outflow is where water comes from the ground. Inflow is the subterranean area where it travels to near the surface.

There’s been interest in the Akutan site for at least 30 years. New wells were drilled this and last year, one finding water up to 500 degrees. Deep water is under enough pressure that it does not boil off at those temperatures. And other studies further defined the resource.

Mann says the city is committed to building an approximately $60 million plant, including about 5 miles of road and transmission lines. Read more

From Popular Mechanics: The whine of the power plant sounds like a jet engine as refrigerant blasts through the turbine at 1000 mph. Though the equipment is compact, the din fills the vast hangar, and mechanical engineer Gwen Holdmann has to shout to be heard: “What you see here is very Alaskan. It’s not painted. It’s not pretty. But it’s real.” I place my hand on the steel door capping the plant’s evaporator; it’s warm to the touch, filled with Alaska’s most promising new energy source–plain water.

It’s midnight at Chena Hot Springs Resort, 56 miles northeast of Fairbanks, and outside, the July sun has only just slipped below the horizon. Holdmann’s blond hair escapes a loose ponytail as she climbs onto a metal walkway to point out the heat exchanger. A black-eared husky named Amberlynn watches her every move from below. “The cool thing about this … ,” she begins, as she does most sentences, and it occurs to me that it’s appropriate every time: This is cool. It is Alaska’s first geothermal plant, and it’s producing electricity from lower temperature water than any plant in the world.

Heat stored beneath the Earth’s surface holds 50,000 times the energy of all the oil and gas in the world combined. If it could be harnessed, it would be an ideal source of base-load power: Geothermal is cleaner than fossil fuels, and more reliable than alternative sources like tidal, wind, wave and solar. Today, geothermal plants in the United States generate nearly 3000 megawatts of electricity–enough to power South Dakota. Almost all of it comes from reservoirs that are at least 300 F. Read more

By Ted Land Channel 2 News: It’s been a disappointing summer for the Mount Spurr geothermal energy project.

Reno, Nevada-based Ormat Technologies Inc., which has been doing test work on leases out there, said equipment problems and difficult rock conditions only allowed them to drill a single well, instead of the two they planned at the start of the summer.

Ormat spokesman Paul Thomsen also said the well also didn’t get as deep as they wanted, and that they weren’t impressed with the water temperatures they sampled.

“It doesn’t mean that the resource isn’t there, it just means that our first shot at finding it was not successful,” said Thomsen.

Ormat’s Spurr exploration camp has been demobilized for the summer. Thomsen said the company is now putting together a report, which it plans to present to the Alaska Energy Authority in the next few months.

Thomsen said Ormat expects to review its initial findings with the state before spending any more money on future drilling at Mount Spurr.

The State of Alaska is helping pay for Ormat’s exploration work — lawmakers committed millions of dollars to match the amount of money the company spends on the Spurr leases.

The Alaska Center for Energy and Power in conjunction with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center just released a report entitled “Ground Source Heat Pumps in Cold Climates” that covers the current state of the Alaska industry, a review of literature, preliminary economic assessment and recommendations for future research. This is the most comprehensive report to date on this technology, detailing the existing systems in Alaska and their performance.

Download the report here (.pdf)

Robert Woolsey, KCAW-Radio:SITKA, ALASKA (2011-06-16) As communities brace to see which of this year’s state capital projects survive the governor’s veto pen, a proposed energy development on Chichagof Island is already generating controversy. Pegmatite Mountain is a geothermal site on the island. While it’s not yet known how much hot water there is, and how much electricity it could produce, proponents believe Pegmatite is ideally situated to serve three villages with this new, renewable, and relatively inexpensive form of power. The trouble is, Pegmatite – though green – is still development, and Chichagof Island residents are divided over whether the benefits are worth the risks to their remote lifestyle.

Electricty in Hoonah is diesel-generated, and currently goes for $.56 per kilowatt hour, about six times more than it costs Sitka, Juneau, or anyplace else in Southeast served by a hydro power. Although Hoonah’s residential electric customers see a discount due to the state’s power-cost equalization formula, businesses don’t.

Lifetime Hoonah resident and mayor Windy Skaflestad is unhappy about the changes he’s seen in Southeast villages.

“We’re fighting to keep the people here. Take a look at Angoon, Kake – people have left the town and gone to Juneau or elsewhere.”

Skaflestad has long advocated building a road across northern Chichagof Island to connect Hoonah with Pelican, whose small hydro plant has enough surplus energy to help Hoonah. Thirty-five land miles separate the two towns, about half the distance of the water route. Winter gales in Cross Sound also can sometimes isolate Pelican, and it may be three weeks between ferries. Hoonah’s ferry service is far more reliable, on inside waters all the way to the capital. Read more

By Tim Bradner | Alaska Journal of Commerce:Cook Inlet Region Inc. isn’t the only renewable energy provider knocking on Southcentral electric utilities’ doors these days.

Ormat Nevada Inc. is proposing to develop a 50-megawatt geothermal power project at Mount Spurr, 75 miles southwest of Anchorage. It would like an agreement with utilities to buy its power, according to Paul Thomsen, the company’s business development director.

CIRI is meanwhile working on its Fire Island wind project, which is ready for construction this summer if power sales contracts are signed. Fire Island was initially planned at 50 megawatts but is now scaled back to 32 megawatts as a first phase to make it easier for the utilities to incorporate variable wind power in the regional electric grid, CIRI spokesman Jim Jager said.

There’s wide agreement that Southcentral electric utilities need to diversify sources of energy away from natural gas, which is being depleted in producing fields in the region. Estimates are that shortages of natural gas supply could affect the region as early as 2014.

State Sen. Lesil McGuire, a strong advocate in the Legislature for renewable energy and diversified power supply, has said projects like Fire Island and Mount Spurr could help utilities bridge a gap between the depletion of natural gas and the development of long-term sources of new energy, such as a large hydro project at Watana on the upper Susitna River.

If the Legislature approves, the state will begin preliminary work on licensing a Watana hydro project this year, but it will take about a decade for power production to begin because of the long licensing period and several years of construction. Ormat did core test drilling at Mt. Spurr last year and will be back in the field to do follow-up work this summer, the company has told legislators in Juneau.

The company has invested about $3 million of its own funds, along with payments to the state for the geothermal leases, but has also been assisted with grants from the state’s Renewable Energy Resource Fund, which helped finance exploration in 2010 and will do so again this year. Read more


From the Alaska Journal of Commerce:Ormat Technologies’ summer 2010 small-bore drilling program on the southern flanks of Mount Spurr volcano, on the west side of Alaska’s Cook Inlet, has confirmed the likely existence of a geothermal source that would enable power generation for the Alaska Railbelt, Paul Thomsen, Ormat’s director of policy and business development, told the Alaska House Resources Committee Jan. 24.

Thomsen said that the purpose of the company’s drilling program is to determine whether there is an appropriate combination of underground heat, underground water and permeable rocks to enable the construction of a viable geothermal power plant.

And so far things look good.

“Results to date have been very encouraging,” Thomsen said. “The shallow water shows the mixing of geothermal fluids. The geochemistry indicates that there is a very high temperature resource — we can look at water molecules and see how hot they’ve ever been. All of this is indicating, as we thought, that this is a very hot, very good potential geothermal resource.”

Ormat picked up 15 leases on the southern flanks of Mount Spurr in the State of Alaska’s September 2008 geothermal lease sale and since then has moved ahead with a geothermal exploration program involving aerial surveys, ground surveying, surface sampling and the small-bore drilling. To date the company has invested about $5 million in its Mount Spurr project, Thomsen said. The company has drilled two slim holes to depths of about 1,000 feet — the plan is to continue with the slim-hole drilling, with core holes to depths of up to 4,000 feet in 2011, and with the possibility of drilling a full-size production well in 2012, to determine whether there is a commercially viable geothermal reservoir, he said.

Customer needed

However, the project has reached a point where Ormat needs to find a potential customer, willing to sign up to a power purchase agreement that can underpin the risk of funding the Mount Spurr work.

“As a company, we’re reaching the very tough decision of how much capital can we outlay without having a guaranteed contract to take that power, and at what price is that contract going to be at,” Thomsen said.

The project should produce 50 to 100 megawatts of power, Thomsen said. And with an expected year-round reliability of 95 percent or better, and with a constant, self-refreshing underground heat source, a geothermal power plant could contribute to meeting the Railbelt’s base-load power needs, he said. Ormat typically self finances a geothermal project until the geothermal power plant goes into operation, at which point the company refinances the project using long term debt — the relatively low project risk at that stage leads to attractive interest rates on the debt.

In the case of Mount Spurr project, the company has been using a $2 million grant from the Alaska Energy Authority, with the company matching that grant with $2.1 million of its own money. The company has been recommended for a further $2 million AEA grant, subject to further company expenditure in excess of $3 million, Thomsen said.

Infrastructure cost

However, coupled into the financing issues for the project is the question of the likely $70 million to $80 million cost of the necessary power plant support infrastructure: a 40-mile power transmission line from Mount Spurr to the nearest point on the Railbelt power grid and about 25 miles of permanent access road. Ormat anticipates holding discussions with the state and with Chugach Electric Association, the operator of the Beluga power plant where a transmission line from Mount Spurr would connect with the grid, about the appropriate mechanism for infrastructure funding, whether by private industry or by the state.

With an estimated construction cost per kilowatt hour capacity of $5,000 to $6,000, the cost of a Mount Spurr power plant would be somewhat higher than the typical $3,000 to $5,000 per kilowatt hour of a comparable plant in the Lower 48. And the costs and possible performance of the plant lead to a likely electricity cost of around 12 cents to 13 cents per kilowatt hour, a figure that is a few cents higher than the avoided cost of using current sources of Railbelt power, Thomsen said.

A reduction in geothermal royalties enacted by the state legislature in 2010 has shaved about one cent off the projected power rate, but some additional incentive, perhaps a refundable tax credit, would be needed to allow geothermal to compete on a straight cost basis, he said.

Fixed cost

But although currently more expensive to produce than, say, power a from a natural gas-fueled plant, much of the cost of geothermal energy involves the amortization of the initial cost of the plant, thus offering the enticing prospect of locking in a fixed power price over a 20-year period, while also enabling the generation of base-load power with virtually no environmental impact. And a typical geothermal power purchase agreement conveys to the power utility all of the green attributes of the power source, such as the elimination of sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions, Thomsen said.

The proposed design for a Mount Spurr power plant involves bring hot geothermal water to the surface through a well, using that water to heat a secondary, low-boiling point fluid and then using the boiling of that secondary fluid to drive a turbine. The used water would be re-injected underground into the geothermal reservoir, where geothermal energy would reheat the water for re-use. And the secondary fluid would also be continuously recycled. Read more

By SCOTT STREATER of Greenwire: Idaho, sitting atop the nation’s third-largest geothermal resource, is working to ease development restrictions on prime state-owned lands with hopes of attracting new interest and investment in what is arguably the nation’s least-known renewable energy fuel.

Four bills being floated in the state Legislature would remove a 10-year expiration clause on geothermal leases to allow companies more time to develop projects, as well as remove restrictions on geothermal lease sizes and reduce royalty fees for power producers that have scared other developers away from the state.

The legislative package, written and sponsored by the Idaho Department of Lands with the support of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) and other top-ranking lawmakers, comes as the Gem State tries to stake its claim in the renewable energy boom that is sweeping across the Interior West.


“In order to get a company to come in, it’s just nearly impossible the way our law is now,” Rep. Bert Stevenson (R) told members of the House Resources and Conservation Committee last week, according to the Times-News in Twin Falls. “We’ve got to make these changes to encourage that geothermal development.”

The changes would apply only to Idaho’s 2 million acres of state endowment lands — parcels given to the state by the federal government when Idaho joined the Union in 1890. Those tracts are intended to produce revenue to support public schools and several public university and charity funds. Read more

By Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB –Unalaska: The City of Akutan continues to make progress on its geothermal energy project. For more than a year, the city has been working to turn the island’s hot springs into a renewable energy resource. This summer, two exploratory wells have been drilled 1,500 feet into the earth, at a site about three miles away from the town in Hot Spring Valley Bay. According to program manager Ray Mann, the results have been promising. Geologists have measured temperatures of about 360 degrees in the wells – hot enough to move forward with the project.

Last week, Mann traveled to California to address the Geothermal Resources Council and talk about where the project stands and where it’s going. Hear the full story here

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