Geothermal Energy Weekly leading news

Leading news in the geo power industry, brought to you by the Geothermal Energy Association.

Graph of the Week: Understanding Geologic Features Helps Predict Well Capacity

IFC 2013 Distribution of Well Capacity by Geology

Key: Geology Code 2: Large-scale volcanic structures; Geology Code 3: Younger volcanic features; Geology Code 4: Sedimentary basins. Larger scale volcanic structures may reflect higher permeability and could result in more successful geothermal power projects. Source: International Finance Corp.


Above: Our Graph of the Week comes from International Finance Corporation’s new “Success of Geothermal Wells: A Global Study” report and depicts the success of a geothermal power plant well by the geology. GEA’s Ben Matek observed from the data that “It appears larger scale volcanic features have the highest modal capacity of about 6 MW, while sedimentary basins have the smallest modal capacity at about 3 MW,” though he acknowledges the authors’ note that data fluctuations make “definite conclusions” difficult. The authors hypothesize that older volcanic structures are more fractured than other geology types, “and so permeability of the reservoir is higher, allowing greater flow of geothermal fluids.”

Geothermal Power Plants Provide Second Cleanest Form of Electricity, Says Argonne Report
Baucus Calls for Input on Streamlined Set of Energy Incentives
International Development On the Move in Africa
Geothermal Industry Invites New Members to Join in the New Year

Geothermal Power Plants Provide Second Cleanest Form of Electricity, Says Argonne Report
Benjamin Matek, GEA staff ~ Argonne National Laboratory concludes binary power plants are one of the cleanest forms of electricity, next to hydropower. J. L. Sullivan and M. Q. Wang published their assessment of lifecycle emissions of geo power plants, titled “Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from geothermal electricity production,” in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. A life cycle analysis is a standardized environmental assessment that provides an analysis of all products and services over the entire life span of the power plant. The authors track emissions from beginning to end, including activities that comprise extraction of raw materials from earth as well as product manufacture, use, maintenance, and end-of-life disposition.

Binary power plants emit only 5.7 g/kWh of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), as opposed to 8 g/kWh for Wind, 38 g/kWh for Photovoltaic, and 537 g/kWh for Natural Gas Combined Cycles. Only hydro had a lower rate than geo power at 5.4 g/kWh. In layman’s terms, California binary plants average 5.7 grams of GHG for every kWh of electricity they generate when factoring all aspects of constructing and running a power plant including fuel production, fuel use, fuel cycle, and plant cycle. Binary power plants are a closed loop system which prevents emissions.

Since Flash and Dry steam plants do not use completely closed loops, GHG calculations for these plants were 126 g/kWh. However, these were still considerably lower than fossil fuels like natural gas or coal. Most of these emissions came from the steam itself. The authors also studied EGS projects and found them to be a considerably emissions-free form of energy emitting only 28 g/kWh.

To conclude, the life cycle emissions from geothermal binary power plants were several orders of magnitude lower than coal or natural gas power generation and were even cleaner than its brother-and-sister renewable technologies.

Baucus Calls for Input on Streamlined Set of Energy Incentives
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) this week unveiled a discussion draft for input for reforming energy related tax laws. According to an accompanying press release, the discussion draft offers proposals to: (1) Establish a new, technology-neutral tax credit for the domestic production of clean electricity; (2) Establish a new, technology-neutral tax credit for the domestic production of clean transportation fuel; (3) Consolidate almost all of the existing energy tax incentives into these two new credits, with appropriate transition relief; (4) Provide businesses and investors with more certainty by making the new incentives long enough to be effective, but phasing them out once clearly defined goals have been met.

Additionally, Baucus and 25 senators urged the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in a letter to not let tax credits for renewable energy expire. Six House Democrats wrote a similar letter.

International Development On the Move in Africa
Becky Little, GEA staff ~ Last Wednesday, the Washington Chapter of the Society for International Development (SID) honored Asif Shaikh at its Annual Gala Dinner. The Dewhurst Group, a member of GEA and SID, attended the event. In his acceptance speech, Shaikh said that Africa is “on the move, and some remarkably good things are happening there” in terms of development. Shaikh emphasized that the advancement of women’s status and education in the 21st century will be a catalyst for development, not only in Africa but throughout the world.

Shaikh’s impressive career has included work with African development, natural resources, and environmental issues. Shaikh’s very first field engagement consisted of analyzing renewable energy opportunities in Botswana. Since then, he has worked with natural resource and environmental programs in Africa and development programs with USAID, including the “Energy Initiatives for Africa” project. SID is an international membership forum made up of individuals and organizations that are passionate about sustainable economic, social, and political development.

Geothermal Industry Invites New Members to Join in the New Year
Becky Little, who works with the membership of the Geothermal Energy Association, writes this week:

As the end of the year approaches, we’d like to urge you to consider joining GEA as a member in the New Year! GEA needs your support to be a stronger voice for the geothermal community. We work hard for all members of the industry, large and small, encouraging the expanded use of geothermal energy in the US and worldwide. We have made impressive strides in having geothermal recognized in the media, in Washington, and in other important arenas, and we know we need to do more. But we can’t do so without your support in 2014.

As a GEA member you can enjoy significant discounts to attend and exhibit at GEA events. In 2014, these events will include:

• GEA’s International Geothermal Energy Forum – April 22-23 in Washington, DC
Will highlight developments around the world and feature speakers from companies, international organizations, and governments developing thousands of megawatts of new geothermal power.
• GEA’s National Geothermal Summit – Aug 5-6 in Reno, NV
Will bring together industry and government leaders from across the western states to engage in a dialogue about the issues facing the industry today and the actions needed to spur its growth.
• GEA’s Geothermal Energy Expo – Sept 28-Oct 1 in Portland, OR
Will host the world’s largest gathering of geothermal vendors and provides a unique opportunity for exhibitors to showcase their projects, equipment, services, and state of the art technology to the geothermal community.

As a GEA member, we’d keep you up-to-date with the latest industry developments in 2014. You would have early access to GEA reports on international and domestic projects, markets, and growth; updates on GEA’s U.S.-East African Geothermal Partnership with USAID; and invitations to participate in conference calls and meetings with industry and government leaders. Please join us in 2014.

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