Hawaii contract expected, while fracking debate continues; Idaho lab leads subsurface modeling; New Nevada energy director comes from geothermal; New York’s GHPs

The Big Island of Hawaii is expecting a geothermal contract to be out soon, while the island’s fracking debate continues. Idaho National Laboratory’s Fracturing And Liquid CONvection (FALCON) modeling program simulates subsurface physics, aiding potential for geothermal energy extraction. In Nevada, a new Energy Director coming from the geothermal community has been named by the Governor. In New York, GHP systems are setting trends.

Hawaii: Big Island Contract Announcement Expected Soon
Hawaii: Big Island Debates Fracking and Geothermal
Idaho: Modeling Program Simulates EGS Processes
Nevada: Ormat Officer, GEA President Tapped for Director of Energy
New York: GHP Systems Introduced on ECC Campus and Lutheran Church

Hawaii: Big Island Contract Announcement Expected Soon
Hawaii Electric Light Co. is soon expected to award its 50-MW geothermal contract, which was offered for bid earlier this year. As GEA news noted in May (Geo-energy.org (PDF)), HELCO received bids from six companies, including Ormat Technologies, as well as Huena Power, a company formed by Innovations Development Group of Honolulu that emphasizes local community partnership in a “native-to-native” model for energy development. Ormat operates the 38-MW Puna Geothermal Venture, which is also located on the Big Island (Bizjournals.com). Information on the Geothermal Request for Proposals are on HELCO’s Web site, Helcohi.com.

Hawaii: Big Island Debates Fracking and Geothermal
Hawaii County Councilwoman Brenda Ford has introduced a bill (Bill No. 129) to ban fracking, a term in this instance being used to describe enhanced geothermal development. A public hearing was held September 17 at a meeting of the County Council’s Committee on Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability, with over 30 resident testifiers sharing their concerns. Hawaiitribune-herald.com; Westhawaiitoday.com

Idaho: Modeling Program Simulates EGS Processes
Using funds from a U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office award through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Idaho National Laboratory’s Fracturing And Liquid CONvection (FALCON) modeling program simulates the subsurface physics important for geothermal energy extraction. The project began as a quest for a simulation code that could better describe the processes underlying Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) — i.e., heat, fluid, chemical and mechanical components interacting underground. Researchers in four countries — Iceland-based GEOthermal Research Group (GEORG); New Zealand’s Institute for Earth Science and Engineering at the University of Auckland; Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); and University of Utah’s Energy & Geoscience Institute (EGI) are all using FALCON to evaluate site data. Inlportal.inl.gov; Eere.energy.gov; Youtube.com

Nevada: Ormat Officer, GEA President Tapped for Director of Energy
Gov. Brian Sandoval has named his new Director for the Nevada Office of Energy. Paul Thomsen, Director of Policy and Business Development at Ormat Technologies, who is also President of the Geothermal Energy Association. Thomsen has also worked for Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and former Sen. Richard Bryan. The GEA congratulates him on the appointment.

New York: GHP Systems Introduced on ECC Campus and Lutheran Church
A couple major geothermal heat pump (GHP) systems have been newly introduced in New York state.

The new Green Building Technology Center comes in the form of an energy efficient house on the Erie Community College campus in Buffalo, New York. The house has been outfitted with a geothermal heating and cooling system and rooftop solar panels, and will soon host a wind turbine in the yard. The state Office of Homes & Community Renewal provided $600,000 in federal money for the project which will serve as a working laboratory to train college students as well as employees of local businesses. Buffalonews.com

At St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in rural Akron, the company Buffalo GeoThermal Heating has installed a geothermal heating system “that includes four 7-ton, two-stage, high-temperature WaterFurnace 5 Series hydronic heat pumps in a parallel configuration,” according to Hpac.com. The GHP replaces an oil-fueled system that turned out expensive bills. One impediment that the church overcame along the way was funding — especially since the church’s nonprofit status made it ineligible to receive federal tax credits. The congregation voted unanimously to install the system, and one month later, there had been $70,000 raised for the project. The church also uses solar-panel system to reduce electricity costs and has become a trendsetter in the area.

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