GEA’s International Geothermal News Briefs for the week of March 17, 2014

Geothermal photos via Twitter users @oranckay in California and @TheWondersNatur in New Zealand

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

U.S. States
*California: New York Times Features Lithium Production from Geothermal Brine
*Connecticut: Geothermal Heating Proposed for New London
*Hawaii: Attorney General Says 100% Geothermal Royalties Should Benefit Locals
*Hawaii: HELCO to Hold Off Geothermal Contract for Clarifications

*Ethiopia: USAID Africa Official Reiterates Support for Geothermal

The Americas
*Mexico: Risk Insurance Fund a Possibility for Geothermal Development

*China: Geothermal Could Replace Coal Consumption
*Indonesia: MOU will Increase Geothermal Cooperation with New Zealand
*Indonesia: Sarulla Partners Nearing Deadline
*Japan: Kumamoto Geothermal Plant to have 2-MW Output
*Malaysia: Geothermal Delegation Visits New Zealand
*New Zealand: Lake Rotomahana Shows High Resource Potential

*Industry Calls for Binding EU Renewables Target
*England: Stoke-on-Trent Gets Funds for Geothermal Project
*Iceland: PPA Brings Geothermal to Silicon Metal Plant

An article on New York Times looks at Simbol Materials’ plans to break ground this year in California on a lithium production plant that will piggyback on geothermal production. The expected ouput is 15,000 metric tons of lithium annually, and Simbol will initially produce lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide for battery manufacture.

In Connecticut, JDN Associates wants to build geothermal heating and cooling infrastructure for school and other municipal buildings at no cost to the city. “JDN would handle all the financing of equipment and installation,” company president Mark Roberts told press. “The city just signs an Energy Services Agreement to buy the energy at a much lower fixed rate. The city makes no capital investment. JDN does that.”

Hawaii’s Attorney General David M. Louie has issued a Formal Opinion that 100% of royalties from geothermal resources developed in Hawaii must be be paid to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to be used for the benefit of native Hawaiians. “I hope that by issuing Op. No. 14-1, the Legislature and the community will have a greater appreciation of the constitutional and legal foundation for DHHL’s rights to the economic benefits of geothermal resource development on Hawaiian home lands,” Louie said.

Following complaints from a Hawaii state senator, company attorneys, and others that Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) is dragging its feet on awarding a pending Big Island geothermal project to one of six bidders, the utility has stated it will hold action until after its Power Supply Improvement Plan is completed in April and changes are made to the RFP. In a statement to the Tribune-Herald, HELCO President Jay Ignacio said, “We are seeking low cost energy that also ensures reliability and also is sensitive to community and environmental concerns. We believe we can get that through a geothermal facility. Completing the Power Supply Improvement Plan will give us an opportunity to clarify for the PUC, the Independent Observer, and bidders what we are seeking with the RFP.”

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) assistant administrator for Africa, Earl Gast, told press the U.S. Power Africa Initiative in Ethiopia is more inclined to aid geothermal energy efforts than hydropower efforts because of Egypt’s opposition to Ethiopia’s Nile dam project.

The Secretariat of Energy of Mexico, Nacional Financiera, the company Munich Re and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding this month to address financial barriers in geothermal development. The group will consider a Risk Insurance Fund as a basis. Mexico’s Department of Energy hopes to develop up to 2 GW (2,000 MW) of geothermal energy by 2020.

In China, geothermal energy could replace coal consumption, stated quoting the National Energy Administration (NEA). Coal currently provides about 66% of the nation’s power. NEA’s geothermal goals for 2015 are to reach 500 million square meters of heat supply, 100,000 kW of installed capacity, and 20 million tons of coal equivalent (TCE) of geothermal usage per year. China’s east-central sedimentary basin has been identified as having 49.17 billion cubic meters of underground hot water, with potential to replace 1.854 billion TCE.

A visit to Indonesia by New Zealand Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and others included the signing of a memorandum of understanding on geothermal between Auckland UniServices Limited and the Indonesian Geothermal Association (Inaga). UniServices will provide training to Indonesian geothermal professionals in the next two years. New Zealand has a total of NZ$100 million ($85.67 million) earmarked for a range of sectors in Indonesia over the next five years, with NZ$15 million of that to go to the energy sector, including geothermal-related activities.

Partners on the Sarulla Indonesia project are nearing a due date to ink a deal.

The Kumamoto geothermal plant in Japan being planned by the Chuo Electric Power Co. will have an output of ~2 MW, to provide power for 1,500 households. This could be the first new geothermal power plant in 15 years. Sources such as are saying it could be on line as soon as next month.

Malaysia’s Minister of Energy, Green Technology & Water Dr Maximus Ongkili and a delegation discussed the country’s first geothermal power project, located at Tawau, Borneo, on a recent trip to New Zealand. They met with University of Auckland staff who will assist on the Tawau Green Energy (TGE) geothermal resource center along with the Malaysian Government and the Sabah state government. TGE managing director Ramzi Raad told local press the center will train Malaysian engineers and scientists. The delegation visited the Wairakei combined flash and binary geothermal power plant and the Ngatamariki binary geothermal power plant near Taupo.

New Zealand geothermal expertise was highlighted this week; see the above stories on partnerships that will support markets in Indonesia and Malaysia. Additionally, the study by GNS Science on the geothermal area of Lake Rotomahana, located near Rotorua in New Zealand, has started showing initial results. The area shows great potential for energy development, with two principle areas of high heat generation.

Ahead of scheduled European Heads of States’ discussions on the 2030 climate and energy framework proposals, the European renewable energy associations issued a joint press release calling on EU leaders “to fully grasp the long-term benefits of an ambitious nationally binding EU renewable energy target.”

A £32.8 million “city deal” for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, England, will include a geothermal development project touting jobs and clean energy. Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted in local press: “Today’s City Deal will hand the people of Stoke-on-Trent the power and freedom they need to grow their local economy and turn the city into a world- leading manufacturing powerhouse.”

Under a new power purchase agreement, Iceland’s national power company, Landsvirkjun, will provide 58 MW of power, using geothermal and hydro power, to PCC Bakki Silicon hf. for its silicon metal production plant currently being built on the northeast coast. Operations are scheduled to begin in early 2017. Dr. Hordur Arnarson, CEO of Landsvirkjun said in a statement, “We welcome PCC Bakki Silicon and the silicon metal industry into our growing group of customers. We are confident that silicon metal production will thrive in Iceland for the long term, where power is generated from 100% renewable energy sources. Conditions are excellent for power-intensive industries to grow in Iceland and to gain a valuable competitive advantage in Europe and globally.”

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