Leading news: Geothermal Energy Expo Kicks Off This Sunday

The GRC Annual Meeting and GEA Geothermal Energy Expo kicks off this Sunday, September 20 at the Peppermill in Reno, Nevada! This post brings you updates on opportunities at the geothermal events, as well as legislative updates in California and Washington DC; organizations that are helping communities displaced by the California Wildfire that has also damaged The Geysers geothermal facilities; and more from our GEA members.

Geothermal reservoir simulator: Grid blocks with assigned properties based on logging and testing results. Source: GeothermEx, Petrel* Plug-In for TETRAD
Image: Grid blocks with assigned properties based on logging and testing results. Source: GeothermEx, Petrel* Plug-In for TETRAD

Click below to read this week’s leading geothermal news.

*GEA Geothermal Energy Expo: Open to the Public in Reno on September 23
*GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo Welcomes World’s Largest Annual Geothermal Energy Gathering
*RSVP for East Africa Geothermal Executive Exchange Introductory Briefing
*California Passes Bill Seeking 50% Renewables by 2030
*GEA, Senators, Urge Geothermal Inclusion in EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program
*Calpine: Valley Wildfire Reached The Geysers Geothermal Energy Facilities
*GeothermEx/Schlumberger: GeothermEx Develops Petrel* Plug-In for TETRAD
*Investment Site Highlights Ormat Technologies
*Ram Energy Featured for East Africa Geothermal Work
*PTC Opposition Groups Send Letter to House Committee
*DOE Initiative Gets Expert Technical Assistance for Small Geothermal Businesses

GEA Geothermal Energy Expo: Open to the Public in Reno on September 23
GEA Press Release, Reno, NV (September 14, 2015) – On Wednesday morning, September 23 from 9am-noon, the GEA Geothermal Energy Expo, being held in the Tuscany Ballroom of the Peppermill Resort and Casino, will be free and open to Reno area public. If you are a local business owner, university student, teacher, or government official, you are welcome to walk the 100+ booths of the world’s largest geothermal gathering free of charge. The GEA Expo floor features a unique opportunity for leaders in the business to showcase their projects, equipment, services and state of the art technology to the geothermal community. This is the premier gathering to learn about the latest developments in geothermal energy. The Expo, held in tandem with the GRC Annual Meeting is being held from September 20-23.

Geothermal energy is a firm yet flexible renewable energy source that can bring the reliability of 24/7 baseload power or complement other energy technologies by firming up more intermittent power generation. It can also provide distributed power generation from small co-production projects, with one of the smallest environmental footprints of any technology. It is encouraged to pre-register to attend the Expo during the open Wednesday am hours. To do so, please visit: https://www.gifttool.com/registrar/ShowEventDetails?ID=1872&EID=20430. You will pick up your registration materials onsite at the Peppermill in the Tuscany Foyer outside of where the Expo will be held. To request press credentials, please contact Kathy Kent Schott at 202.454.5263 or email kathy@geo-energy.org.

GEA's Geothermal Energy Expo
GEA’s Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo Welcomes World’s Largest Annual Geothermal Energy Gathering
Press Release (Reno, Nevada, USA) September 16 – The geothermal energy world is coming to Reno, Nevada next week to take part in the largest annual event for the industry. The international geothermal power market is booming and with a sustained growth rate of 4% to 5% and almost 700 projects currently under development in 76 countries, the GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo is expected to be an exciting international gathering of geothermal companies, academics, financiers, policy leaders, students, and other individuals. The international geothermal community is marking their calendars to attend or exhibit at the event, to be held from September 20-23 at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino, Reno, Nevada, USA.

This is the premier gathering to learn about the latest developments in geothermal energy. Last year, the GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Expo hosted more than 1,400 representatives from 39 countries. Participants from six continents were present. In 2015, an even broader attendance is anticipated.

The GRC Annual Meeting will offer technical, policy, and market conference sessions, educational seminars, tours of geothermal and renewable energy projects, and numerous networking opportunities.

The GEA Expo will feature exhibits by leading companies featuring new technology from drillers, suppliers, developers and more.

“Nevada is home to numerous geothermal projects and other renewable energy” said Steve Ponder, Executive Director of the GRC. “Geothermal, in addition to generating electricity, generates jobs and property tax revenues for local counties.”

“The GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Expo offers a unique opportunity for leaders in the business to learn about latest market developments and showcase their projects, equipment, services and state of the art technology to the geothermal community,” said Karl Gawell, Executive Director of GEA.

Special presentations for international visitors are available. The eighth annual GRC International Luncheon will bring together experts from around the world with U.S. private and public sector stakeholders to discuss geothermal energy developments in Eastern Africa, Ukraine and the Philippines. Attendees will be able to meet and greet these experts, and explore partnership opportunities. Also, the GRC International Session will have experts from around the world present the latest geothermal energy developments in regional markets: Australasia, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Middle East, Europe, South America, Central America, and North America.

Geothermal energy is a firm yet flexible renewable energy source that can bring the reliability of 24/7 baseload power or complement other energy technologies by firming up more intermittent power generation. It can also provide distributed power generation from small co-production projects, with one of the smallest environmental footprints of any technology. Geothermal has the potential to help meet many U.S. states’ Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goals as an alternative to fossil fuels. Recent breakthroughs in Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) technology for exploiting geothermal resources around the world raise bright prospects for the industry.

For more information please visit http://www.geothermal.org or http://www.geothermalenergy2015.org.
Join the conversation on Twitter by following the GRC @GRC2001 and #GRCAM2015 or GEA at @geoenergist and #GEAExpo2015.

For GRC Annual Meeting information or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Estela Smith, 530 758 2360 or grc@geothermal.org. For GEA Expo exhibitor or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Kathy Kent Schott, 202 454 5263 or kathy@geo-energy.org.


RSVP for East Africa Geothermal Executive Exchange Introductory Briefing
Via U.S. Energy Association–The United States Energy Association’s East Africa Geothermal Partnership Program (EAGP) will be hosting an Executive Exchange Introductory Briefing during the GEA Geothermal Energy Expo and GRC Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada. The briefing will take place on Sunday, September 20th in the Peppermill Resort’s Sorrento 4 room from 2:00PM to 4:00PM. The briefing will include presentations given by delegates from Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya regarding both current and upcoming geothermal opportunities in their respective countries. There will be opportunities to ask questions of the delegates during the briefing, and EAGP staff will be on hand to set up meetings with individual delegates throughout the week. If you plan to attend, please send an RSVP to Mr. Scena Nayak (snayak@usea.org) along with any questions you may have prior to the briefing. We look forward to your attendance.

2014 event presentations of visiting East African geothermal delegates
2014 GRC/GEA event presentations of visiting East African geothermal delegates

California Passes Bill Seeking 50% Renewables by 2030
The California Legislature passed has passed the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act (SB 350) to set the goals of 50% utility power coming from renewable energy and 50% increase in energy efficiency in existing buildings by 2030. The renewables mandate is an extension on the current 33% by 2020. SB 350 expected to be signed into law later this month by Governor Jerry Brown. The National Resources Defense Council blog notes, “Despite concerns that the 33 percent requirement was infeasible and too expensive, the Public Utilities Commission reports that utilities are currently on track to meet and in some cases significantly exceed the program’s mandate – AND at lower cost than expected.”

GEA, Senators, Urge Geothermal Inclusion in EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program
In a letter dated September 18th, 2015 the Geothermal Energy Association sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency urging the inclusion of geothermal power in the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP). Also in the discussion this week, support for geothermal energy is extended in a letter from seven senators (Reid, Feinstein, Boxer, Wyden, Merkley, Hirono, and Schatz) to EPA Administrator McCarthy.

In its letter GEA makes the following suggestions that would allow geothermal power plants to fully be included in CEIP: (1) include metered MWh generated from geothermal resources or allow states to include geothermal resources if their state contains these resources; (2) Since the timeframe for geothermal includes exploration and more permitting in many states than an equivalent wind or solar project, include projects where significant construction has begun; this could include a binding written contract to the manufacture, construct, or produce electricity on a piece of the geothermal property, and includes expansion of existing facilities (incremental generation) or a new facility; and (3) Projects online in 2020 and 2021 under this program would receive credit for their MWh generated like wind or a solar project.

“Without this amendment to the CEIP program, GEA is concerned the way the current rule is written would shift investment away from geothermal projects in the west,” states the letter, noting geothermal’s importance in the low-income communities such as the Imperial and Coachella Valleys.

The letter states, “geothermal power meets the criteria and the spirit of the CEIP by providing emission free power in low-income communities. In fact, studies have shown, geothermal binary plants are less polluting than either wind or solar technologies on a lifecycle basis. In addition, these plants are located in some areas with the highest unemployment rates in the west. Adding geothermal to this provision could help expand these facilities, providing jobs and economic opportunities in these impoverished communities. Overall, geothermal power will be essential to western states’ long term clean energy portfolio and economies, while being consistent with the CEIP’s directive to advance clean technology in impoverished communities.”

A number of available geothermal resources have already been identified; GEA estimates over 500 MW of geothermal power could be brought online in less than two years with power purchase agreements. “These are projects where resources are identified, wells drilled, and the developer is waiting for a power purchase agreement to order equipment and build the physical power plants. Typical once projects have reached this stage they can be brought online in 17-24 months. These new plant’s high capacity factors will be essential to replace retiring base-load fossil fuel facilities in the west.”

The letter from the senators to EPA states: “We have noted that the Clean Energy Incentive Program includes solar and wind energy, but does not include a number of other important clean energy technologies that the federal government has historically defined as renewable energy resources, like geothermal energy, marine and hydrokinetic energy, biomass, small irrigation power, and qualified hydropower, as defined under Section 45(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Environmental Protection Agency should ensure that other clean energy sources of electricity are eligible for matching emission rate credits under the Clean Energy Incentive Program.”

Calpine: Valley Wildfire Reached The Geysers Geothermal Energy Facilities
Many in the geothermal community have friends and colleagues being impacted by wildfires, particularly the Valley Fire in Lake County California. GEA sends it deepest sympathy to the many affected, and in consultation with Calpine and NCPA are urging those interested in helping to consider a donation to one of these groups doing good work in relief efforts:

  • Red Crosswww.redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Red Cross has a toll free information hotline for residents impacted by the Valley Fire – (855) 224-2490. To follow on Twitter, go to @RedCrossCalNW. To download the Red Cross Emergency App go to redcross.org/apps. See also the article: “Red Cross Helps Wildfire Evacuees.”
  • Lake County Fire Relief; https://fundlyenterprise.com/Donate/LakeCountyFireRelief
  • Lake County Search and Rescue; http://www.lakesheriff.com/ServicesPrograms/sar
  • North Coast Opportunity Center; Mendo-Lake Credit Union is accepting financial donations on behalf of NCO. Check payments should be made out to Mendo-Lake Credit Union or North Coast Opportunities with a memo for Valley Fire and dropped off or mailed to the following branch locations: 14866 Olympic Drive in Clearlake, CA 95422; 953 11th Street in Lakeport, CA 95453 or 526 S State Street in Ukiah, CA 94582.

In a press release dated September 14, GEA member Calpine Corp. updated the extend of damage from the Wildfire at The Geysers geothermal energy facilities: “Over the weekend, a wildfire designated as the Valley Fire spread to Calpine Corporation’s (NYSE: CPN) The Geysers geothermal power facilities in Lake and Sonoma Counties, California, affecting five of Calpine’s 14 power plants. All employees and contractors were safely evacuated and accounted for. We understand from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) that the fire is moving away from other power plants at The Geysers but is only minimally contained and could change direction. We continue to generate and deliver renewable electricity to the grid for our customers from our non-affected plants at The Geysers to the extent possible. We are coordinating closely with Cal Fire in the event further evacuation is needed from our operating plants, as employee safety is our top priority.

“The fire inflicted substantial damage to the communities surrounding The Geysers. As a longtime member and supporter of these communities, we are heartbroken over the losses sustained by our employees, friends and neighbors and our thoughts and prayers are with them. For our affected employees, we are developing assistance programs to support our Geysers family through these difficult times. We also are working with local officials and community leaders to determine how best to provide assistance and support to the communities impacted by this fire to help them get back on their feet, with initial donations totaling $100,000 to local charities, including the American Red Cross, for community relief efforts. Finally, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the first responders who are working hard to contain the fire.

“As to our affected facilities, ancillary structures (specifically, cooling towers, communication equipment and local power distribution lines) have been severely damaged. There is no known damage to any of the main power houses (including steam turbine and generator sets) at those sites. The fire also damaged some third-party transmission lines that transmit our power to the grid. Calpine’s insurance includes coverage for wildfire risks at The Geysers. Based on preliminary information, we expect such insurance will cover costs to repair or replace our damaged facilities as well as our net revenue losses, after applicable deductibles. We expect our delivery obligations under power sales agreements to be excused without further obligation by reason of force majeure until repairs are completed.

“The Geysers is the largest geothermal complex in the world comprising approximately 45 square miles along the border of Sonoma and Lake Counties. Calpine owns and operates 14 power plants at the Geysers with a net operating capacity of approximately 725 megawatts.”

GeothermEx/Schlumberger: GeothermEx Develops Petrel* Plug-In for TETRAD
Via GeothermEx — Press Release (Richmond, California) Sept. 15 — GeothermEx and Schlumberger are working together to develop improved technology for the geothermal industry during all phases of geothermal development:
• For the exploration phase, we are implementing a fully integrated workflow where all data, interpretation and assumptions combine seamlessly into a working conceptual model that identifies the need for further exploration and improves the success rate of the first full-diameter wells.
• For the production drilling phase, we are integrating well design, equipment specification and drilling procedures to increase drilling efficiency, and we are implementing a real-time data feedback system to facilitate rapid and improved well targeting.
• For the operations phase, we are using numerical modeling techniques to optimize production and injection strategies to maximize return on investment.

Wells, permeable zones and temperature contours in geothermal field model
Wells, permeable zones and temperature contours in geothermal field model

A recent example of new technology developed by GeothermEx and Schlumberger is a non-commercial plug-in that seamlessly integrates the geothermal reservoir simulator TETRAD and Schlumberger’s popular Petrel* E&P software platform, a powerful 3-D analysis and visualization tool. The TETRAD plug-in adds insight and efficiency in geothermal reservoir modeling, and is now used in all of GeothermEx’s modeling projects.

The plug-in allows direct coupling between the geological model and the numerical simulation model. The property modeling tools in the Petrel platform are used to directly translate stratigraphic and fault information into the various petrophysical and hydraulic properties required for each grid block of the numerical model, and readily exports the properties to a TETRAD-format input file. The plug-in also allows users to directly add interpreted seismic and geophysical properties into TETRAD, quickly specify the trajectories and production or injection intervals in individual wells, and to scale-up properties from selected wells to different grid blocks. This feature allows GeothermEx to produce more accurate numerical models that demonstrate direct links to basic data collected by geoscientists, drilling engineers and reservoir engineers.

The TETRAD plug-in has also significantly improved the ability to visualize the output data from the numerical reservoir model. Spatial and temporal output from TETRAD can now be imported and viewed in various ways, including periods of historical operations and future forecasts using the video player capabilities in Petrel. These new visualization options improve the ability to communicate concepts, data and simulation results to technical experts, managers, and others who need to understand how geothermal reservoirs behave in response to various exploitation scenarios. GeothermEx is effectively using these improved visualization tools to allow a highly technical process to be readily conveyed to experts and non-experts alike.

Together, GeothermEx and Schlumberger are exploring additional avenues to leverage Schlumberger’s historic and significant investment in R&D for geothermal applications. Increased reservoir simulation efficiency and improved visualization capabilities is just one example – more is on the way. More information can be found at www.slb.com.

Investment Site Highlights Ormat Technologies
An investment article highlights geothermal company Ormat Technologies as an industry leader that “will eventually be valued like the high-yielding electric utilities.” The article notes that the patented Ormat Energy Converter technology provides a competitive advantage. See seekingalpha.com.

Ram Energy Featured for East Africa Geothermal Work
Hezy Ram, principle at Ram Energy Inc. (a GEA member) participated in a video on geothermal energy in Kenya. The trailer for “Geothermal Energy: The New Steam Age” is viewable at thenewsteamage.com. “Steam. That’s what you see steam here. What I see here are dollars, ‘cos this steam that comes from the center of the planet allows me to develop a geothermal power plant, generate electricity for the benefit of the people of Kenya and the rest of the world,” says Ram in the video, adding that developers must stay optimistic.



PTC Opposition Groups Send Letter to House Committee
This week the American Energy Alliance, Heritage Action for America, Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity sent a letter opposing the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) to the House Ways and Means Committee. The letter claims that extensions of the incentive have been unnecessary and hide the true cost of wind power. The letter states: “While not immediately apparent, the wind PTC is critical to President Obama’s recently finalized carbon regulation. One of the “building blocks” used to determine state targets includes significant increased installation of renewable energy—especially wind. In fact, EPA assumes the wind industry will more than double its total capacity in just eight years. Without taxpayer subsidies like the PTC, the President will be unable to achieve his arbitrary renewable energy target.” The full letter is available here, americanenergyalliance.org (PDF).

DOE Initiative Gets Expert Technical Assistance for Small Geothermal Businesses
Via the U.S. Department of Energy — A new initiative will make it easier for small geothermal businesses to get specialized technical assistance from the national labs focused on their specific problems. The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has set aside a total of $20 million to launch the Small Business Voucher (SBV) Pilot.

This pilot will provide selected small clean energy businesses with vouchers valued at $50K to $300K. Businesses can exchange the vouchers for expertise, facilities, and capabilities from the national labs to help overcome sticky technical challenges that may be preventing innovations from entering the marketplace. Participating businesses must each provide 20% matching funds or in-kind services. The SBV Pilot is unique in offering small businesses an entrée into the national labs. Over decades of addressing some of the nation’s most difficult technical problems, the national labs have built up tremendous resources and expertise that may have previously seemed out of reach to small businesses.

Recognizing that small business are key to helping bring more geothermal resources online, the SVB Pilot has dedicated nearly $1.5 million in vouchers for small businesses working in geothermal. DOE National Laboratories, including the SBV geothermal lead labs, Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, are poised to provide demonstration, testing, evaluation, economic modeling, environmental impact analysis, and more in these areas:

• Enhanced Geothermal Systems ($483,000 in vouchers available): The SBV Pilot can help small businesses pursue technical solutions through collaborative research, supported by demonstration and testing programs already underway. A major DOE initiative in EGS is the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE), which may offer opportunities for collaboration with SBV in the future.

• Low Temperature Geothermal ($483,000 in vouchers available): Small businesses can jump-start opportunities by accessing national lab expertise concentrated on improving the efficiency of lower temperature geothermal systems and analyzing the value of geothermal as a replacement for other energy sources.

• Systems Analysis ($483,000 in vouchers available): National lab expertise in evaluating trends, conducting impact analyses, and performing economic modeling and validation of geothermal technologies can yield resources, information, and tools to help companies reduce costs and risk, address regulatory barriers, and manage environmental impacts.

To learn more and apply to be included in the SBV Pilot, businesses are encouraged to visit http://www.sbv.org or to email David Kistin at dkistin@sandia.gov. The Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office will also be at the GRC Annual Meeting & Geothermal Energy Expo. Stop by booth #328 next Tuesday, September 22 during lunch.


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