Week of April 14, 2014 international geothermal news briefs

Geothermal photos via Twitter users @RMPJeff in Utah and @beehigg in New Zealand.
Geothermal photos via Twitter users @RMPJeff in Utah and @beehigg in New Zealand.

U.S. States
*California: Sonoma Utility to Start Clean Energy Program
*Colorado: Laser-Mechanical Drilling Project Progresses
*Nevada: Renewable Energy Tax Abatement Program is Drawing Investment

*Kenya: UNEP Report Considers Green Economy Scenarios
*South Africa: New Research Shows Geothermal Potential

The Americas
*Canada: Valemount Mayor Supports Geothermal Energy
*Grenada: Agreement to Kick Off Green Energy Roadmap

*Indonesia: Gov’t to Offer Higher Price for Geothermal
*Japan: Coal Preferred Over Geothermal in Cabinet-Approved Plan
*The Philippines: DOE Ok’s Mt. Apo Geothermal Plan

*France: Univ. of Strasbourg to Offer Geothermal Courses
*Germany: Geothermal Heat and Power Set for Taufkirchen
*Iceland: District Court Rules Against Geysir Entry Fee

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In May, Sonoma Clean Power of Sonoma County, California is starting the CleanStart service to bring clean energy to over 20,000 customers. A statement from CEO Geof Syphers notes the program utilizes the benefits of geothermal power: “[G]eothermal power operates all of the time. Most renewable power sources can’t do that. Solar power can’t run at night, and wind power can’t run when the wind isn’t blowing. As a result, this geothermal power is an ideal starting point for building Sonoma County’s clean power mix.” CleanStart is expected to bring greenhouse gas emissions 30% lower than PG&E’s service and cost 2% to 3% less. [Sonoma County Gazette]

A project supported by the U.S. DOE and Colorado School of Mines focused on laser-mechanical drilling in geothermal development. Mark Zediker (Foro Energy, Littleton, Colorado) writes this week that the project “demonstrated a laser-based drilling process with a faster rate of penetration (2–3×) and substantial decrease in the weight on bit (>25×) that ultimately leads to a longer bit lifetime. Our next step is to perform drilling tests at higher power levels to characterize the scalability of the drilling process.” [SPIE.org, ARPA-E.energy.gov]

Solar, geothermal, and wind energy investment in Nevada has seen a combined $5.5 billion since 2010. An editorial from American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan notes the state’s Renewable Energy Tax Abatement program has been an incentive: “In just four years, the program has attracted applications of 1,176 megawatts worth of solar energy from photovoltaic or thermal technologies, 566 MW of geothermal power, and Nevada’s first large-scale wind-energy project,” he says. [RGJ.com]

A new study launched by the Government of Kenya and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says Kenya’s transition to a green economy could produce an estimated US$45 billion by 2030. The report considered potential scenarios, including a green economy scenario that would double geothermal capacity by 2030 as compared to a business-as-usual model. [JamaicaObserver.com]

A recent issue of the SA Journal of Science says heat flow measurements in areas of South Africa show potential for geothermal energy. Suggested areas are parts of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, the Northern Cape and North West. [IOL SciTech]

Valemount’s mayor Andru McCracken wants to see geothermal energy in British Columbia, Canada. “We may have a resource under our ground that may radically reduce the cost of a business district heating system,” McCracken was quoted. “How can we continue not to have a program to systematically find out what the resource is?” [Rocky Mountain Goat]

In the Caribbean, Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has signed an expression of interest with Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room for help in roadmapping action and investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The island could utilize geothermal energy. [CaribJournal.com]

The government of Indonesia‘s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry is finalizing a new pricing policy to offer higher prices for geothermal electricity, in order to attract project investors for geothermal power plants. The price is expected to range between 11.5 cents and 29 cents per KwH. [TheJakartaGlobe.com]

Japan has shown renewed interest in geothermal energy as a way to replace its nuclear plants, but may have taken a step back this week. A new energy plan approved by Japan’s cabinet on April 11 names coal as an important long-term energy source, but does not name geothermal and other renewables similarly. [Bloomberg]

Officials have approved two geothermal sites around Mount Apo, the Philippines, for exploration by Aboitiz Power. This phase of Aboitiz’s work plan will include surface exploration and communication with local government, stakeholders, and indigenous peoples. [Manila Bulletin]

Geothermal courses are being prepared through the School and Observatory of Earth Sciences at the University of Strasbourg, France. The program will be a partnership with ES Energy, a subsidiary of utility Electricite de France. The budget is € 2.1 million ($2.9 million) over 8 years. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

By the end of this year, Daldrup & Söhne and GeoEnergie expect to begin operations at the Taufkirchen, Germany combined geothermal heat and power plant. It is expected to provide a thermal capacity of 35 MW and a power generation capacity of 4.3 MW to the population of Oberhaching and Taufkirchen. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

The District Court of south Iceland has ruled against a 600 ISK (€4, $5) fee, which was introduced in March, for visitors who want to enter Geysir geothermal area. The ruling could possibly be appealed to the Supreme Court of Iceland. [IcelandMag.com]

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