Geothermal news briefs from around the world for the week of February 24, 2014

Geothermal photos via Twitter users @SenJeffMerkeley in Oregon, @annegalloway in New Zealand, and @BlueLagoonIS in Iceland

The Geothermal Energy Association brings you this week’s geothermal news briefs from around the world.

U.S. States
*California: Lithium Extraction Demo Featured
*California: Hudson Ranch II Drilling Suspended
*California: Gas Shortages Lead to Flex Alert
*Connecticut: Geothermal System Gifted to Habitat for Humanity
*Hawaii: Bill Gives County More Geothermal Authority
*Hawaii: Bills Would Ban Hydraulic Fracturing
*Indiana: Ball State Geothermal Installation Updated
*New York: Tool Used in 2006 MIT Study Updated
*Oregon: Second Well Drilling to Start at Olene

*Africa’s Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility Moving Forward
*Djibouti: Lake Assal Phase 1 to Start in 2015
*Ethiopia: Power Africa is Powering Corbetti
*Kenya: 30-MW Geothermal Well Drilled
*Kenya: Japan Team Offers Support
*Zambia: Third Well Planned for Kafue Basin

The Americas
*St. Lucia: Geo Energy Has Potential Purchaser

*China: Geothermal to Supplant Natural Gas in Henan
*Indonesia: Volcano Erupts
*New Zealand: Ngawha Expansion Planned
*New Zealand: Strong Geothermal Creating Profits
*The Philippines: Leyte Bulk Energy Winner Named
*The Philippines: Mindoro Plans Geothermal Fish Farming JVs
*Solomon Islands: Savo Geothermal Enviro-Social Assessment Complete
*Vanuatu: Agreement Signals Exploration will Begin

Europe and the Middle East
*Iceland: Environment Minister Supports Geothermal Cooperation with Japan
*Iran: Geo Energy Project Halted
*Turkey: Country Ranks 7th for Geothermal

An article on looks at the demo project to extract lithium from geothermal brine at the Salton Sea, California.

Also at the Salton Sea, drilling at the nearby Hudson Ranch II project has been suspended following the drilling of two sub-commercial wells. Salt River Project in Arizona holds a PPA for power from the plant, which remains in place. Andy Horne, Imperial County deputy executive officer for natural resources development told press, “It spells out how uncertain it is and how difficult it is to locate a well and start generating power.”

Winter 2014’s displaced polar vortex caused natural gas shortages and a four-year high in natural gas prices in February. The shortages led California’s ISO to issue a statewide Flex Alert on Feb. 6, with customers asked to conserve energy between 1:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. that day.

The Connecticut Geothermal Association has gifted a geothermal system to Habitat for Humanity of Northwest CT that will be utilized in a three bedroom home. The system has a retail value of about $40,000, and it is expected to lower projected electrical heating costs by three-quarters.

Hawaii State House of Representatives was set to look at two different bills on geothermal subzones. HB 1766 would reinstate a requirement that geothermal projects occur in designated subzones and specifies where the county has authority over the state. A similar bill, HB 2639 would not re-establish geothermal subzones.

HB 2359 and SB 2940, also in Hawaii, would ban hydraulic fracturing. Mililani Trask of Indigenous Consultants spoke against the bill at a hearing: “Why do we have this bill? … Its a fabrication to create hysteria against geothermal development.”

Ball State University, Indiana, provides an update on its geothermal system: “[F]ully 47 buildings are connected to the system for cooling and some 22 buildings have been connected for heating this winter season. Once the south field of bore-holes is completed and the south energy station becomes operational, the remaining 25 buildings in the south half of campus will be connected to the heating loop of the system. Within the next 18 months, the entire campus heating and cooling needs will be fully met by the district-scale geothermal heat pump chiller system.”

Experts at Cornell University in New York have published a paper on the updated GEOPHIRES (GEOthermal energy for the Production of Heat and Electricity (“IR”) Economically Simulated) software tool that was used in the 2006 MIT “Future of Geothermal Energy” study. The tool “combines reservoir, wellbore, and power plant models with capital and operating cost correlations and financial levelized cost models to assess the technical and economic performance of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS),” according to the AIP abstract.

Drilling should begin in March on a second geothermal production well at Olene, Klamath Falls, and is expected to take two or three months. Testing at the first well indicates commercial viability of geothermal production “up to 1,500 gallons per minute,” Bill Honjas, president and CEO of Klamath Basin Geopower told press.

The African Union Commission’s Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility is moving forward. “Under the facility, grants have been awarded to 5 projects in Kenya and Ethiopia, amounting to 22 million US dollars, and other agreements will be signed in March this year,” Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Dr. Elham Ibrahim was quoted following the Second High Level Meeting of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership.

A Reuters update on the Djibouti Lake Assal geothermal project says phase 1, for 50 MW, will start in 2015. Reykjavik Energy Invest of Iceland will develop the project.

An International Business Times article looks at Ethiopia’s Corbetti project and how the Power Africa initiative is powering geothermal projects in Africa’s Rift Valley. Ethiopia is also planning a Red Sea cable to export 100 MW of electricity a year to Yemen.

KenGen tells local press it has drilled one of the largest geothermal wells in Africa, at 30 MW, located in Olkaria Naivasha, Kenya.

Japanese geothermal experts are in Kenya to provide technical advice to Geothermal Development Company.

In Zambia, geothermal exploration company Kalahari will move on to a third well in Kafue Basin. The area could have as much as 1,000 MW potential.

Saint Lucia Electricity Services Limited says on its Web site it has put time and money into developing the legal and technical framework “which will allow it to purchase whatever electricity can be produced from the Sulphur Springs,” the site where World Bank is studying geothermal potential.

State-owned Sinopec’s geo energy project in China‘s Henan province is intended to supplant natural gas consumption by about 4.87 million m3/a and reduce carbon emissions of 70 million cm3.

Mount Kelud in Indonesia erupted, causing mass evacuation. The Earth is flexing its power.

In New Zealand, Top Energy plans to expand its Ngawha geothermal plant near Kaikohe and could create around 200 new jobs.

New Zealand’s Mighty River Power reported a net profit of $124 million over the last six months largely due to strong geothermal production.

After reports that Aboitiz Power Corp and Vivant Corp were named Independent Power Producer Administrators for the Unified Leyte Geothermal Power Plant in The Philippines, at 40 MW and 17 MW, respectively; Energy Development Corp was also announced as a 40-MW winner. Also, UNIFIED Leyte Geothermal Energy Inc. withdrew its bid.

Filipino developer Emerging Power Inc. (EPI) is discussing geothermal fish farming joint ventures in Mindoro. Local fishing enterprises would use the company’s resources at Montelago Geothermal Power Plant starting in 2016 when the 40-MW plant is expected to begin operations. The geothermal fluid mixed with water will contain natural microorganisms and minerals that that are healthier for the fish than chemical-based feeds. The plan is expected to save fish farmers 80% on fuel costs. EPI is signing an agreement to supply geothermal power to Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Inc., added to a prior agreement with Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Inc., meaning the company will provide geothermal to the entire Mindoro island.

In the Solomon Islands, Geodynamics (Australia) and joint venture partner Kentor Energy have completed an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the Savo Island Geothermal Power Project. The assessment showed positive impacts such as potential to replace diesel fuel, lower dependence on imports, and create jobs. “We are now accelerating our preparations to undertake the planned four well exploration drilling program,” project director Gregory Wong was quoted.

The Vanuatu geothermal project is also headed up by Geodynamics. A new agreement with partner Takara Community signals exploratory work will begin. Prime Minister Moana Carcasses was quoted, “The development of Vanuatu’s geothermal resource is a Government policy priority and central to the National Energy Road Map recommendations. This is a project of national importance and key to our economic development.”

Iceland’s environment minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson said in an interview in Tokyo that the two countries can cooperate on geothermal energy to provide help to Djibouti, Kenya, and other developing countries. While Iceland provides the know-how, Japan provides technologies, he said.

Iran’s Renewable Energies Organization has said that the country’s only geothermal energy project is halted due to insufficient funds.

A report from the Ministry of Energy in Turkey said the country ranks seventh in the world and first in Europe for geothermal energy production, at 300 MW/a.

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