Leading news: Geothermal Energy Helps Shape Environmental Solutions

This post brings you geothermal updates for Earth Day, tax reform, greenhouse gas emissions, the public’s view of climate change, technological advancements in geothermal energy and potential leasing in Washington State.

Microsoft Word - EarthDayHandout

Click below for this week’s leading geothermal news.

*Earth Day 2015: Geothermal Energy Helps Shape Environmental Solutions
*Baseload Power Producers Specify Shared Principles on Tax Reform in Letter to Congress
*U.S. EPA Releases Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report
*EESI Fact Sheet Looks at Climate Change Polls
*Satellite Gravity Data can Help Geothermal Explorers
*DOE Lab Developing EGS Stimulation Fluid
*FS Considers Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest for Geothermal Leasing

Earth Day 2015: Geothermal Energy Helps Shape Environmental Solutions
GEA Press Release (Washington, DC) April 2015 — Earth day is coming up on April 22, and this is an important point in history for the environment. Members of Congress voted to recognize that climate change is real, and President Obama announced goals to cut emissions by nearly a third over the next decade. The choices made by U.S. and international communities now will shape the way we use energy in the future. Geothermal energy development is an important part of global solutions for a stronger economy, more jobs, greater security and a cleaner environment. (This information is also available as a printable color handout at geo-energy.org (PDF)).

  • Geothermal energy is a proven renewable resource.

Geothermal (“Earth heat”) energy is renewable and sustainable. The first geothermal demo lit a bulb in Lardarello, Italy around 1900. In the U.S., The Geysers field in California has been operating since the ‘60s.

  • Geothermal energy is a reliable global solution.

Geothermal generation is reliable, predictable baseload energy regardless of environmental conditions, meaning it is available 24/7 and can load follow to balance the voltage swings of variable energy resources like wind and solar. U.S. geothermal developers see international growth in many countries that have established climate laws.

  • Geothermal energy can help restoration efforts.

California’s legislature recently heard testimony on The Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative, a plan to save an important source of water and minerals in the state. Up to 1,700 MW of low-impact, cost-competitive geothermal energy would be developed as part of the restoration strategy.

  • Geothermal energy is offsetting emissions.

Nevada’s nearly 600 MW of geothermal power saves around 9 million barrels of oil annually — the equivalent fuel used by 200,000 cars — and avoids CO2 emissions of 4.5 million tons.

  • Geothermal energy replaces fossil fuels.

The geothermal industry offers a smooth transition from fossil fuels. New Zealand attributes the closing of its Southdown gas facility to increased renewables, including 970 MW of geo energy.

  • Geothermal energy has a small land footprint.

Geothermal plants use one of the smallest surface areas of any energy source for comparable levels of production.

  • Geothermal energy has its own water source.

Most geothermal reservoirs naturally produce their own reusable water. Consumption is significantly lower than most thermoelectric generation and on par with solar and wind.

  • Geothermal seismicity is monitored.

Microseismicity is a natural phenomenon that is monitored with sensitive equipment at geo-energy operations. Low-magnitude events near or associated with a project are typically not felt on the surface. Hydroshearing, used in some “enhanced” geo projects, is sometimes confused with fracking but the two have different geologic goals and methods.

Join geothermal industry discussions at the next GEA event, the National Geothermal Summit in Reno, Nevada, June 3-4. This is the leading forum for policy dialogue between the geothermal industry and state and federal policymakers. It is widely attended by the geothermal community, state regulators, federal legislators and utilities. The 2015 Summit theme is “Geothermal Policies as Stimulus for Economic Growth and Environmental Quality.”

To register for the National Geothermal Summit, or for more information, please visit http://www.geo-energy.org/nationalgeothermalsummit/Main.aspx. Visit the Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1571209836491431/. Join the conversation on Twitter with #GEASummit2015. For sponsorship opportunities or to request press credentials, please contact Yasmin Romitti, 202 454 5263, yasmin@geo-energy.org.

About the Geothermal Energy Association: The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is a trade association comprised of U.S. companies that support the expanded use of geothermal energy and are developing geothermal resources worldwide for electrical power generation and direct-heat uses.  For more information, please visit www.geo-energy.org. Subscribe to GEA’s newsletter here. Follow GEA on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook.

Baseload Power Producers Specify Shared Principles on Tax Reform in Letter to Congress
This week representatives of the Biomass Power Association, Energy Recovery Council, Geothermal Energy Association and National Hydropower Association sent a message to Congress on their shared principles on tax reform. The statements reads:

The Biomass Power Association, Energy Recovery Council, Geothermal Energy
Association and National Hydropower Association represent member companies
that generate firm, reliable baseload renewable power – attributes that are critical
to the functioning and stability of the electric grid and the U.S. renewable energy
portfolio.

Our individual organizations each have specific needs and varied recommendations
as Congress considers the extension of expired tax provisions and overall tax
reform. We come together to share the following joint principles with regard to tax
incentives for renewable energy production.

  • We support a long‐term extension of tax incentives for baseload renewable
    electricity technologies.
  • A phase‐out of tax incentives for baseload renewable electricity technologies
    is inappropriate, given the fact that our technologies have had access to tax
    incentives for a much shorter time period and have not grown at nearly the
    pace of intermittent renewable electricity technologies in recent years. We
    therefore do not support a phase‐out of renewable energy tax incentives for
    biomass, hydropower, waste‐to‐energy, and geothermal energy facilities.

We look forward to working with Congress as it examines tax reform and economic
incentive policies as a whole.

U.S. EPA Releases Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report
The newest Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows a a 9% drop in emissions since 2005. However, there was a 2% increase in greenhouse gas emissions between 2012 and 2013, attributed to increased energy consumption across all sectors in the U.S. economy and greater use of coal for electricity generation. Power plants, transportation and industry/manufacturing made up the top three sources of emissions. Visit http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html.

EESI Fact Sheet Looks at Climate Change Polls
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) has provided a new fact sheet showing information on climate change polling in the U.S. over the last eight months. Notably, the number of Americans who believe climate change is happening and that it is caused by human actions peaked in 2007. Polls also showed disparity among party lines with Democrats believing that human actions are changing the climate moreso than Republicans. Despite this disparity, there is bipartisan support for regulatation of greenhouse gases. View and download the PDF: http://www.eesi.org/files/FactSheet_Climate_Change_Polling_040615.pdf.

Satellite Gravity Data can Help Geothermal Explorers
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have collaborated on new and freely available gravity anomaly maps. The ESA’s satellite gravity measurements and data can help geothermal explorers determine the commercial potential of underground reservoirs.

IRENA’s Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre director Henning Wuester said in a statement, “These maps can help make a strong business case for geothermal development where none existed before. In doing so, the tool provides a short-cut for lengthy and costly explorations and unlocks the potential of geothermal energy as a reliable and clean contribution to the world’s energy mix.”

The new tools provide information on characteristics that are unique to geothermal reservoirs. A free air gravity map looks at geological structures, while a gravity anomaly map shows differences in crustal thickness. The Global Bouguer and Free Air Gravity Anomaly Maps are available at: http://irena.masdar.ac.ae/?map=1046.

DOE Lab Developing EGS Stimulation Fluid
An enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) project at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has produced a new stimulation fluid. The new solution of water and 1 percent polyallylamine is similar to well-understood polymers used in medicine. It links with pressurized carbon dioxide, which could be taken from CCS projects, to expand the liquid and reduce the amount of water that is used. DOE is funding EGS demo projects across the country.

FS Considers Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest for Geothermal Leasing
U.S. Forest Service could decide this month whether to make land in Washington State’s Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest available for geothermal leasing. The Snohomish Public Utility District is interested in building a geothermal plant to power 20,000 homes. “A baseload renewable resource is something to treasure. We view it as a very attractive possibility,” said Adam Lewis with the district, which has spent $5 million on research. The Environmental Assessment for the proposed consent to lease is available at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mbs/news-events/?cid=STELPRD3829633.

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