Leading news: Geothermal a Necessary Part of Renewable Energy Solutions

This post brings you updates on the Salton Sea, California geothermal resource; new GEA Executive Committee officers; winners of two DOE geothermal student competitions; events happening this month in Denmark, Turkey, and Tanzania; and new RFPs in California.

These geothermal infographics were created by winners in the U.S. DOE’s “GeoEnergy Is Beautiful” competition. See them at youandmecleanenergy.com.

Click below for GEA’s leading news.

*Salton Sea Geothermal Discussed at Portland Conference and Beyond
*Winners Awarded in DOE Geothermal Student Competitions
*GEA Welcomes New Leadership
*US Geothermal: Acquisition of Earth Power Resources Announced
*Report Finds Unconventional Gas Ineffective in Climate Change Mitigation
*Bids on WAPA/U.S. Navy Opportunity Due This Week
*Stanford Announces California Renewables Bidding Opportunity
*GEA Director Joins World Bank Geothermal Dialogue Next Week
*Turkey Workshop to Feature Best Practices, Initiatives, more
*African Rift Geothermal Readies for 5th Annual Conference

Salton Sea Geothermal Discussed at Portland Conference and Beyond
At the GRC Annual Meeting and GEA Geothermal Energy Expo held this month in Portland, Oregon, industry members discussed key geothermal market in the U.S. and internationally. One of the major areas in the current industry landscape is the Salton Sea in southern California. The Imperial Irrigation District has created the Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative to restore the declining Salton Sea, the largest lake in California, with a plan that revolves around the development of geothermal. Development would help curtail the environmental effects of exposed playa as the lake recedes, while providing an economic stimulus for restoration. The area is already home to geothermal generating facilities and has potential for 1,700 MW of geothermal energy.

The 2014 legislative session in California fell short on passing a bill, S.B. 1139, that would have required California electric utilities to procure a portion share of 500 MW of geothermal power over the next ten years. Proponents saw it as key in efforts at the Salton Sea, as well as an answer to many other problems the California market is facing: intermittency issues, replacement of the defunct San Onofre nuclear facility, retirement of coal resources, and replacing lowered hydro and other water issues associated with California’s ongoing drought.

Carl Stills, Energy Manager of the Imperial Irrigation District and a GEA Board member spoke at the opening session of the event about the need for geothermal despite the loss of S.B. 1139. “What has changed in California is that geothermal has become part of the conversation where it was not before,” Stills said. “Geothermal has a place in the renewable energy future and it cannot be discounted. I really wanted to stand before you today and say that California had just contracted for an additional 500 MW in geothermal energy. However, the reality is that we knocked on the state’s door for SB 1139 and they didn’t answer. But we aren’t going away. With the Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative, we will continue to knock. If they still do not answer, we will knock louder. If they still refuse to answer, we are committed to knocking down the door, because we unequivocally believe that geothermal is the key to providing many answers that currently plague California’s water and energy environment.”

Read a write up about the Portland event:

  • “Slow-Growing Geothermal Seeks Bigger Piece of US Renewable Energy Pie” by Pete Danko, Breaking Energy [breakingenergy.com]

Read more about geothermal energy at the Salton Sea, California:

  • “California drought sparks competition between natural gas, renewables,” platts.com
  • “Receding Salton Sea could make room for geothermal” by Sammy Roth, desertsun.com

Winners Awarded in DOE Geothermal Student Competitions
The U.S. Department of Energy has announced the winners in two geothermal student competitions. [view press release]

Truckee Meadows was the top winner in the GeoEnergy Is Beautiful competition, which focused on communicating the benefits of geothermal energy through public outreach and infographics. DOE also awarded teams from The University of Texas—Pan American and The University of Mississippi. See the visual at the top of this page, and you can view winning infographics at youandmecleanenergy.com.

Colorado School of Mines was the top winner in the Geothermal Case Study Challenge, which sought to identify trends in geothermal resource location by aggregating existing data. The Colorado team focused its case study on the Waunita Hot Springs Geothermal Area in Colorado. Also recognized as top winners in this competition were two teams from the University of North Dakota, one covering the Mt. Princeton Geothermal Area in Colorado, and the second North Dakota team covered the Lightning Dock Geothermal Area in New Mexico. The case studies are added to the info-sharing platform OpenEI.org.

GEA Welcomes New Leadership
The Geothermal Energy Association Board of Directors has elected new leadership for 2014-2015. The GEA officers are: Joe Greco, Terra-Gen, Chairman of the Board; Yoram Bronicki, Ormat Technologies, President; Terry Page, Enel Green Power, Secretary-Treasurer; and Doug Glaspey, US Geothermal; Joe Ronan, Calpine Corporation; and Jonathan Weisgall, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Vice Presidents. For information on becoming a GEA member, visit geo-energy.org/gea_members.

US Geothermal: Acquisition of Earth Power Resources Announced
Press Release–U.S. Geothermal Inc. (TSX:GTH)(NYSE MKT:HTM), a leading renewable energy company focused on the development, production and sale of electricity from geothermal energy, announced today that it has signed an Agreement and Plan of Merger to acquire Earth Power Resources (EPR). Under the terms of the Agreement, EPR will be merged with and into U.S. Geothermal. EPR shareholders will receive a total of six hundred ninety-two thousand seven hundred sixty-nine (692,769) shares of U.S. Geothermal stock in exchange for all outstanding shares of EPR stock. EPR will have no outstanding debts or unpaid obligations at the time the transaction closes. The transaction is expected to close by the end November 2014 following shareholder approval by EPR Shareholders.

The assets acquired from EPR include geothermal leases covering 26,017 acres in Nevada representing three projects, as well as EPR’s complete geothermal resource database of new project opportunities located throughout the western United States. EPR’s management evaluated and compiled the database over its nearly 40 years of geothermal exploration experience.

Resource reports prepared for EPR over the past several years by GeothermEx Inc., a consulting geothermal engineering firm, provide estimates that the energy potential contained within the three projects is in the range of 158 to 359 megawatts.

The exploration projects acquired are:

The megawatt estimates contained in these independent reports represent the potential energy, or heat-in-place contained within the project boundary, which demonstrates that these prospects are very attractive development targets with identified geothermal resources. The actual, producible power generation may be significantly different than the heat-in-place calculations, and will depend upon the discovery of commercial temperatures and permeability.

In parallel with the closing of the EPR transaction, U.S. Geothermal has acquired an additional 2,960 acres of private geothermal lease rights necessary to fully develop the Crescent Valley resource.

“We are very pleased to add the Earth Power development resources to our development project portfolio,” said Dennis Gilles, Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Geothermal Inc. “Earth Power Resources, under the leadership of Ronald Barr, has had tremendous success with the early stage development of numerous projects over the past 4 decades, that went on to be successfully developed geothermal projects in operation today. We are pleased to take over the reins from Ron and advance these excellent opportunities to their final stage of development.

“We are also pleased to have Ron working with our team over this next year, as we move these projects forward. We had previously announced that our plan for continued growth would come through a combination of the development of internal projects and growth through strategic acquisition – this acquisition continues the execution of that plan.”

Report Finds Unconventional Gas Ineffective in Climate Change Mitigation
A new paper published in Nature shows that unconventional natural gas is driven by the market, but does not “discernibly reduce the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions or climate forcing.” The authors used projection models for energy use, economic activity, and climate systems through 2050. According to the authors, “Our results show that although market penetration of globally abundant gas may substantially change the future energy system, it is not necessarily an effective substitute for climate change mitigation policy.” [Nature.com; motherjones.com]

Bids on WAPA/U.S. Navy Opportunity Due This Week
The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) is soliciting proposals for renewable energy in its Desert Southwest region on behalf of the U.S. Navy. California renewable energy products qualify for the contract. Proposals must be submitted to WAPA by 10 a.m. this Friday, October 17. For more information, including related contacts, visit http://www.wapa.gov/dsw/DSW_RFP_Navy.htm. The Request for Proposal is available in PDF form at http://www.wapa.gov/dsw/Documents/Navy_RFP.pdf].

Stanford Announces California Renewables Bidding Opportunity
Stanford University’s Land Buildings & Real Estate (LBRE) department is soliciting bids from renewable energy sources via long term PPA’s, which they will consider for action in their next meeting on December 7, 2014. They will issue an RFP in the next few weeks, requesting a short turnaround time for bids in order to meet the December 7 date. The RFP will be open to all CA RPS eligible renewable resources and minimum project size will likely be 20 MW. Energy Edge Inc. with support from Black & Veatch and LBRE staff will lead the solicitation and evaluation process. If you’re interested in receiving the solicitation, please contact Scott Olson at OlsonSJ@BV.com.

GEA Director Joins World Bank Geothermal Dialogue Next Week
Next week GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell will participate in the Global Geothermal Development Plan Roundtable 2 in Copenhagen, Denmark. At the GGDP Roundtable 2, governmental representatives, development institutions, industry, developers and financial experts will meet to discuss challenges, solutions, and accompanying policies for developing geothermal projects. The Roundtable 1 was held in The Hague in November 2013. The GGDP initiative is led by the World Bank/ESMAP in collaboration with bilateral and multilateral funding institutions.

Turkey Workshop to Feature Best Practices, Initiatives, more
The U.S.-Turkey Geothermal Workshopis happening this month, October 21-22 in Ankara, Turkey. The event includes panels, plenary sessions, and networking opportunities for U.S. and Turkish businesses. GEA has listed this as a Supporting Organization event, and it is sponsored by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). Workshop sessions will showcase existing and upcoming project opportunities in Turkey; government and regulatory initiatives driving investment in Turkey’s geothermal sector; U.S. technology and best practices for geothermal project implementation; and project financing resources for geothermal development. [view press release]

African Rift Geothermal Conference Readies for 5th Annual Event
The theme of the Fifth African Rift Geothermal Conference (ARGeo-C5), taking place this month, is “Geothermal: Solution to Africa Energy needs.” Plenary sessions will discuss Financing Geothermal Projects in the East Africa Region and Strategy for Geothermal Development. The origins of the conference began around 2002 when Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) hosted a start-up conference with a focus towards developing an East African geothermal collaborative. The conference has grown as has collaboration between U.S. companies and East Africa’s geothermal markets. The United Republic of Tanzania is hosting ARGeo-C5 in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Visit the event page at c5.theargeo.org.

For more about geothermal opportunities in East Africa, visit the Web page of the U.S.-East Africa Geothermal Partnership (EAGP) at www.geo-energy.org/EastAfrica/EAGP. EAGP is a partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Geothermal Energy Association, implemented by the U.S. Energy Association, that focuses on six priority countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

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