Leading news: Geothermal a Boon for Energy Targets and Regional Planning

This post brings you the latest in federal climate and clean energy efforts; announcements from the DOE’s geothermal office, including a search for their new director; benefits of one of the newest geothermal projects; hearings in California that could affect the industry; opportunities in Ethiopia and New Zealand; and more.

Source: Western Governor’s Association, “Transmission and Renewable Energy Planning In California: Opportunities for Regional Stakeholder Engagement” (PDF)

Above: California’s robust renewable energy targets and regional approach to renewables and transmission, combined with its existing geothermal production and future additional potential, make it a U.S. and worldwide leader. Responsibilities for implementation are housed within three California entities – the CPUC, CEC and CAISO. Several announcements from California that could affect the geothermal industry are included in this post.

Click below to read this week’s leading news and announcements about geothermal energy.

*U.S. Submits Climate Goals to UN
*Senate Vote Promotes Clean Energy
*New Geothermal Facility Benefits Nevada and California
*Search is On for DOE Geothermal Technologies Office Director
*DOE Requests Geothermal Drilling Information
*California Energy Hearings Scheduled for April
*California Grant will Support Electricity Sector Studies
*California PUC Announces Important Dates for Integration Cost Debate
*International Geothermal Investors to Showcase in Melbourne
*Eleven Africa Projects Prequalify in GRMF 3rd Round
*USEA Seeks Interest in Geothermal Legal Consultancy in Ethiopia
*UNEP to Train 3D Conceptual Modeling in Ethiopia
*New Zealand Offers Scholarships for Geothermal Studies
*Geothermal Heat Pumps Recognized for Sustainability

U.S. Submits Climate Goals to UN
In its formal proposal submitted this week to the United Nations, the White House says the U.S. will seek to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by between 26% and 28% by 2025. “The increasing importance of developing clean energy sources to combat climate change globally is expected to contribute to the demand for new geothermal power plants globally through the 2030s,” according to the recent Geothermal Energy Association publication, 2015 Annual U.S. & Global Geothermal Power Production Report (PDF).

In support of the U.S. submission to the UN, the House of Representatives’ Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition said in a statement, “This announcement signals to the world that an ambitious, but achievable global climate agreement is possible in Paris. Later this year the world’s developed and developing countries will meet again with the goal of forging a global agreement to limit global GHG emissions thereby avoiding the most devastating impacts of climate change.

Brian Deese, Senior Advisor to President Obama, said in a blog, “Clean energy is key to climate action — and there’s good news on that front, too. During the President’s time in office, the United States has tripled the amount of energy we get from wind and increased solar generation more than tenfold. And renewable energy is getting more affordable.”

Senate Vote Promotes Clean Energy
As part of the U.S. Senate’s budget vote-a-rama last week, an amendment passed that promotes investments in clean energy technologies, energy efficiency and reducing carbon pollution. Seven Republicans and all Senate Democrats voted 53-47 to approve the amendment from Michael Bennet, D-CO. The supporting Republicans were: Dean Heller, NV; Lisa Murkowski, AK; Kelly Ayotte, NH; Susan Collins, ME; Lindsey Graham, SC; Mark Kirk, IL; and Rob Portman, OH. Another amendment from Bennet considering PTC extensions was considered but not brought to vote and could be brought again upon the Senate’s return.

New Geothermal Facility Benefits Nevada and California
Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy Press Release (CARSON CITY, NV) March 25 — More of Nevada’s extensive geothermal energy is being tapped after the Governor’s Office of Energy (GOE) granted a tax incentive for construction of a geothermal power plant in Mineral County.

Ormat Technologies, Inc. received the incentive for its Don A. Campbell Phase II geothermal power plant after meeting State and local statutes requiring that the project provide employment for Nevadans, a living wage with comprehensive health benefits, and a major capital investment in the State.

The power plant is one of five renewable energy projects currently under construction in Nevada. These five will eventually join 16 renewable projects that have benefited from GOE tax incentives and are currently operating in the Silver State. The 1,573 MW (nameplate capacity) of these power plants are helping to position Nevada as a major renewable energy producer and exporter in the West.

“The construction of this power plant is a result of Nevada’s commitment to the development and exportation of renewable energy,” said Paul Thomsen, GOE Director. “The streamlined permitting and enhanced incentives are allowing projects like this to move forward, create jobs, and show energy developers that Nevada is a great place to do business.”

Once completed, the power plant will be capable of generating up to 19 MW (net) on a yearly average basis, above the Power Purchase Agreement nominal target of 16.2 MW, which will be sold to Southern California Public Power Authority under a 20 year contract.

According to Ormat’s tax incentive application, the Don A. Campbell Phase II geothermal power plant is expected to create 76 full-time construction jobs with an average hourly wage of $41 and five full-time operational jobs with an average hourly wage of $26.

The tax incentive granted to Ormat is $10 million over 20 years. The total amount Nevada expects to receive from this project is $76 million, which includes employee wages, property and school support taxes, and a capital investment worth $59 million dollars. This represents more than a 7-to-1 return on Nevada’s investment, far exceeding the loss of revenue from the tax incentive.

“This tax incentive is another great example of how government and industry are working to bring sustainable jobs and business to Nevada,” said Bob Sullivan, Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development at Ormat. “Incentives such as these are key in allowing Ormat to be successful in the highly competitive California renewable energy market while bringing quality jobs and economic development to rural areas of our home state. Nevada is blessed with considerable geothermal resources, and we look forward to continuing developing these clean, reliable and flexible resources for the benefit of Nevadans and the region in general.”

The GOE decision to approve Ormat’s tax incentive request highlights the GOE staff’s ability to facilitate cooperation among stakeholders, lead initiatives to stimulate economic development, and attract energy related business ventures that include site development, generation and production, and inter/intrastate transmission.

Search is On for DOE Geothermal Technologies Office Director
Via DOE — The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking applications for the permanent position of Director to lead a national program in the development of innovative geothermal technologies that advance geothermal’s role in the U.S. energy portfolio. The program includes enhanced geothermal systems, hydrothermal systems and exploration, low-temperature technologies, and analysis. With a technical portfolio of more than 150 projects, recent initiatives include play fairway mapping for geothermal systems and a novel field observatory for research into new mechanisms for rock stimulation and geothermal reservoir creation. The position also includes responsibility for a new and exciting Department of Energy initiative in subsurface science and engineering that crosscuts multiple sectors including oil and gas and environmental management, and which has an overall theme of adaptive control of subsurface fractures and fluid flow.

The announcement is open through April 16; for the application and process go to https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/399393200.

DOE Requests Geothermal Drilling Information
Via DOE — Following a funding opportunity announcement in 2014, 11 play fairway analysis projects were selected to analyze and integrate subsurface data in known geothermal resource areas to plot the most favorable regions for geothermal exploration. The projects funded by the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) are now halfway through Phase 1, when teams complete initial data collection and begin to assemble common risk segment maps.

GTO is now exploring a range of options to support Phase 2 efforts, including the possibility of hiring a contractor to drill exploratory wells in FY16. GTO has released a Request for Information (RFI) in March 2015 to do initial market research and identify potential candidates to provide these services. The RFI closes on 4/20/2015. Go to fbo.gov – Solicitation Number: DE-SOL-0008219.

California Energy Hearings Scheduled for April
Several California hearings will be discussing energy-related bills that could impact the geothermal industry. In the California Assembly, the Committee on Natural Resources, April 13, 1:30 p.m. at the State Capitol, Room 447. In the California Senate, there will be Committee Meetings of the Energy Utilities & Commerce, Environmental Quality and Natural Resource Committees on April 7, 14 and 15, respectively.

California Grant will Support Electricity Sector Studies
California has released GFO-15-303, a Grant Funding Opportunity for “Electricity Sector Vulnerability Studies and Adaptation Options to Promote Resilience in a Changing Climate.” Energy market studies supported by this solicitation are intended to help address climate variability and change as California’s energy system evolves. The deadline for written questions is April 8, and the final deadline to submit applications is May 26, 2015 by 3:00 p.m. Solicitation files and more information are available at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/epic.html#GFO-15-303.

California PUC Announces Important Dates for Integration Cost Debate
The integration Cost debate as a result of 2363 will be happening under CPUC Proceeding #: R1312010. Integration Cost Deadlines are:

  • ALJ Ruling 3/27/15
  • SCE and Energy Division Staff Collaboration March-August SCE Modeling
  • Results of 33% RPS Cases for Party Comments 5/29/15
  • Party Comments/Replies on the 33% RPS Results 6/19/15 – 6/26/15 SCE Modeling
  • Results of 40% RPS Cases for Party Comments 8/31/15 Party
  • Comments/Replies on the 40% RPS Results 9/21/15 – 9/28/15

The Ruling was filed by ALJ/GAMSON/CPUC on 03/27/2015 Conf# 84307. View the PDF: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Efile/G000/M148/K824/148824405.PDF

International Geothermal Investors to Showcase in Melbourne
Many geothermal industry members are flocking to Melbourne, Australia this month for the 2015 World Geothermal Congress (WGC), held every five years in a different location. To connect with the Geothermal Energy Association, stop by the exhibition booth of our sister organization, the U.S.-East Africa Geothermal Partnership (EAGP), who promote geothermal in East Africa under the Power Africa umbrella.

GEA members may be interested in a geothermal donors forum, organized alongside the WGC on Tuesday, April 21. Representatives of the following organisations will present their portfolios and focus areas: KfW (German Development Bank) – Geothermal Development Facility in Latin America; DEG (Private sector branch of the German Development Bank, German Investment and Development Corporation); European Union Commission – Renewable Energy Sources Unit; IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency); JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency); WB ESMAP (World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Program); and NZ Aid.

Eleven Africa Projects Prequalify in GRMF 3rd Round
The Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility (GMRF) (including sponsoring organizations from Africa, Germany and others) have announced eleven prequalified projects for the GMRF 3rd Application Round. The prequalified applicants will be required to attend a pre-bidding workshop in Djibouti, planned for May, prior to submitting a full application.

Seven shortlisted surface studies are located at: Mt. Margaret, submitted by Marine Power Generation Company Ltd; Kisaki, Tanzania Geothermal Development company Ltd; Barrier, Olsuswa Energy Ltd; Butajira, Cluff Geothermal Ltd; North Goubhet, Djibouti Office for Development of Geothermal Energy; Arta, Djibouti Office for Development of Geothermal Energy; and Katwe – EL0705, submitted by Cozumel Energy Ltd.

Four shortlisted drilling programmes are located at: Akiira, submitted by Central Marine Power Generation Company Ltd; Ngozi, Tanzania Geothermal Development company Ltd; Korosi, Geothermal Development Company Ltd; and Paka, Geothermal Development Company Ltd.

USEA Seeks Interest in Geothermal Legal Consultancy in Ethiopia
Expressions of Interest are due April 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time for a team to aid the Government of Ethiopia, USAID/Ethiopia and Power Africa in drafting a geothermal law to regulate future development of the geothermal resources in Ethiopia. Up to three teams shall be shortlisted and shall be invited to submit a technical and financial proposal. The two main tasks are (1) Development of a law to govern development of geothermal resources in Ethiopia; and (2) Convene working groups in Ethiopia to finalize and implement the geothermal law. Questions should not be submitted later than April 1 to: snayak@usea.org. Responses to inquires will be posted on the EAGP website at http://www.usea.org/node/1409. Expressions of interest and the associated documentation in English must be delivered by 5:00pm Eastern time on April 3, 2015 to EAGP by email: snayak@usea.org. View the USEA document: http://files.ctctcdn.com/23f0b2b2201/97ab3de1-07b6-42bf-89ab-6ac4017f8e0c.pdf

UNEP to Train 3D Conceptual Modeling in Ethiopia
Representatives of Kenya and Ethiopia requested 3D conceptual model software training from UNEP and ICEIDA to further geothermal development in their countries. The training will go toward the building capacity of geothermal experts in the region. Read more about this and other ARGeo initiatives on the ARGeo site, theargeo.org.

New Zealand Offers Scholarships for Geothermal Studies
The New Zealand government is providing scholarships for students to complete postgraduate studies at a New Zealand study institution. Applications will close on Thursday April 30 for study in 2016, and forms are available at http://www.aid.govt.nz/schols or via email at nzas.info@cbn.net.id.

Geothermal Heat Pumps Recognized for Sustainability
In the recently issued Executive Order to lower emissions in the U.S., President Obama included geothermal heat pumps as a useful technology in reaching the goals. “We are extremely pleased that the White House cited geothermal heat pumps when referring to renewable energy,” says Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) President Doug Dougherty. “The fact that GHPs are officially recognized as a source of clean energy in the president’s executive order on sustainability is a homerun for the GHP industry.”

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