This week’s leading news from Geothermal Energy Weekly

Geothermal Energy Weekly is an initiative of the Geothermal Energy Association. Read about DOE’s geothermal technologies timeline, FERC’s new rules to fast track small projects, and Washington voices discuss a carbon tax.

Graph of the Week: Geothermal Technologies and Timeline by the U.S. DOE
DOE GTO areas nov2013


Above: Our Graph of the Week is a slide from a recent Department of Energy presentation on geothermal energy. In the near term, the DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office is working with local and direct use geothermal applications and growing potential interests to grow the sector, and is continuing to work with the existing private sector on identifying further blind field potential. The GTO’s work on Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) also continues with a select list of companies. Their long-term future goals lie in greenfield EGS which also have the greatest potential in MW.

The GTO’s visual identifies a few of the key technologies within the geothermal sector that are singled out for Administrative support, but does not attempt to represent the sheer number of promising geothermal technologies and applications being developed by competitive industry members, that don’t get federal funding. By working with industry in public-private partnerships, leaders from all sides can understand common goals and identify best ways to move forward.

FERC Adopts Aspects of California’s Rules for Fast Tracking Small Clean Energy Projects
Carbon Tax Debate Grows in Washington

FERC Adopts Aspects of California’s Rules for Fast Tracking Small Clean Energy Projects
The Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) looked to California’s interconnection rules for fast-tracking small clean energy projects and recently adopted several of these for projects nationwide. The changes are intended to ease the fast-tracking process and encourage clean energy development. An article on Greentechmedia.com focuses on three key changes: “Utilities must provide a $300 pre-application report to requesting parties, which includes important information for judging the cost and feasibility of interconnection of the site at issue; Increasing the minimum project size for fast-track eligibility from 2 megawatts up to 5 megawatts; [and] Changing the 50 percent minimum load rule to 100 percent, which effectively doubles the size of projects that are eligible for the fast track.”

Carbon Tax Debate Grows in Washington
Anti-renewables groups continue to push against widespread support for a cleaner energy future. The American Energy Alliance which conducted an anti-renewables-PTC campaign toward the end of 2013 is now tackling carbon tax. An AEA statement says West Virginia Congressman Nick Rahall (D)’s support for a budget that includes a carbon tax “would kill coal and harm West Virginia families and all Americans.” The AEA approach misses the opportunities for the state to expand its horizons and, specifically, the potential for geothermal energy in the state. It is worth mentioning that up to 18,900 MW of potentially exploitable geothermal resources were discovered in West Virginia in 2010.

A Washington Post editorial this week, on the other hand, supports a carbon tax but draws distinctions between that type of greenhouse gas emissions regulation, which the Post prefers, and the newly expired PTC. “The honest and efficient approach to reducing these emissions would be to tax polluting fuels. Consumers would conserve and demand cleaner energy, other taxes could be lowered and market forces, not lawmakers’ whims, would determine which technologies won out,” according to the Post.

Carbon taxes are a policy of choice in several European countries. A Platts article notes France has just introduced a carbon tax on household use of gas, heating oil and coal in 2014, and the measure will be implemented for transport fuels such as gasoline and diesel starting in 2015. Japan introduced a carbon tax in 2012 with the goal to help mitigate climate change and fund low-emissions technologies. Within the U.S. there have been efforts passed on local levels in municipalities in California, Colorado, and Maryland.

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