Geothermal Energy in U.S. Congress; at COP-21; in New DOE Funding; and more

This post brings you:

*Congress Reaching Deadlines; Agency Funding, EX-IM, PTC in Question
*GEA Supports Global Geothermal Alliance; Kickoff Event Happening at COP-21
*DOE Announces New Geothermal Funding Opportunity
*State Department Applauds Geothermal PPA Signed in Nevis
*GEA Supports Geothermal Energy Efforts in Pakistan
*Ormat Joins the American Business Act on Climate Pledge
*Renewable Energy World North America Happening Next Week
*New Mexico Hosting December Meetings on Clean Power Plan

*Geothermal Visual:
Pakistangeomap

The map above was shown by Javed Ahmad, Chairman, Energy Foundation–Pakistan this week in Washington, DC at the U.S.-Pakistan Clean Energy Business Opportunities Conference. The Geothermal Energy Association supports current discussions on geothermal energy in Pakistan (see story in this post.)

Click below for GEA’s leading geothermal news.

Congress Reaching Deadlines; Agency Funding, Ex-Im, PTC in Question
Karl Gawell, GEA Executive Director–Congress would like to end its Session early in December, but has lot to do before it can go home. On their holiday to-do list is funding the federal government, reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) and extending expiring tax credits, just to start the list.

First up will likely be the government funding bill, which is called the Omnibus. Right now it’s expected to include provisions re-authorizing Ex-Im that many businesses would like to see. However, questions about refugees or other hot topics could derail this effort. If they do, a government shutdown looms December 18th. Of course, Congress could do what is called “kicking the can” and move the deadline out a week, but the basic issues of funding the government and allowing Ex-Im to restart operations will remain.

Meanwhile federal agencies, like DOE’s geothermal program, have to operate on reduced funding and short time frames under a short-term CR or “continuing resolution.” “It really cuts against effective research to have the restrictions of a CR on these programs,” noted one former federal employee.

Also, tax credits for geothermal and other renewables are in the holiday mix as part of a “tax extenders” package. The package involves over 50 tax measures that have been allowed to expire, like the tax credit for research and development or the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC). All year long the powerful National Association of Manufacturers has led a broad coalition urging action on tax extenders. “Manufacturers, farmers, teachers, charitable organizations, working families and businesses of all sizes need action on tax extenders before the end of the year, or else they may face negative consequences of higher tax bills, less investments and slumping economic growth,” they have told lawmakers.

Tax extenders was reported to be a major focus of staff work over the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. It appears they are making strides toward a package that could make several tax extenders permanent coupled with extension, but phase out, of the renewable tax credits, the PTC and ITC.

Achieving a deal on tax extenders remains uncertain. If a deal cannot be reached the result may be a one-year retroactive extension of expired tax extenders, although some seem to think a two-year deal along the lines of legislation passed by the Senate Finance Committee, S. 1946, is also possible as a fall-back alternative. “It’s hard to predict how these things are going to end,” said one Senate Republican.

We’ll keep an eye on these and other issues that could impact the geothermal community and will keep you informed. Let’s hope Congress really doesn’t want to find a lump of coal in their stockings this holiday!

GEA Supports Global Geothermal Alliance; Kickoff Event Happening at COP-21
Geothermal energy is a valuable part of solutions for climate change and is represented at the Conference of Parties (COP-21), happening this week in Paris. Stakeholders are taking the opportunity to kick off the Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA), of which GEA is a partner. GGA is made up of member countries and targets 2030 as the deadline to multiply by five the supply of electricity and multiply by two the production of heat from geothermal power.

“GGA’s focus on affecting government policies so that they support expanded geothermal production is a welcome addition,” said Karl Gawell. “Policies drive energy markets, too often geothermal is simply left out, and we hope GGA can be a method of turning this around.” GEA had estimated over 630 projects dispersed throughout 80 countries as of early 2015.

COP-21 included a “technical/working-level event for GGA member countries and partner institutions to present concrete actions towards the accelerated deployment of geothermal energy.” The draft agenda for the GGA event showed remarks from Adnan Amin, Director General, IRENA; H.E. Segolene Royal, Minister of Ecology, Republic of France; and H.E. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iceland. Following the remarks, panels were scheduled to discuss topics such as “Establishing the Global Geothermal Alliance: The Value of Forming a Global Partnership for Geothermal Energy” and “Concrete initiatives in GGA member countries.”

Coverage from event co-host International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) stated: “Speakers identified a range of challenges which the industry faces. These include: risks of exploration; high upfront development costs; human resource limitations; and regulatory difficulties. Moreover the simple lack of awareness about the promise and benefits of geothermal energy is a major barrier to its development – but also perhaps the easiest to overcome in the end. It was emphasized, however, that none of these obstacles are insurmountable.”

A Communiqué issued by the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy of France noted that France is a member of GGA and supports this initiative. Ségolène Royal says that geothermal energy is not developed enough, and in particular stated support for defining clear objectives and the right regulatory framework; mobilizing funding; and developing technological cooperation.

GGA also has its official kickoff at COP-21 on December 7.

DOE Announces New Geothermal Funding Opportunity
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office has released a new funding opportunity announcement titled “Mineral Recovery Phase II: Geothermal Concepts and Approaches to Validate Extraction Technologies.” The opportunity will provide “up to $4 million for approximately three research projects to assess the occurrence of rare earths and other valuable materials dissolved in geothermal or other high-temperature fluids and validate methods for extracting them,” according to the Web site. Via DOE:

The intent of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to promote the advancement of geothermal energy conversion processes by validating technologies capable of providing a secondary income stream from the same geo-fluids. Methods for economically capturing, concentrating, and/or purifying valuable materials contained within geothermal brines represent an opportunity to both meet critical U.S. materials needs and broaden, as well as strengthen, the value-proposition of geothermal energy operations. Results from this work can enhance current applications, support planned development, and potentially open additional regions in the U.S. for economic utilization of geothermal energy.

This FOA invites responses in two (2) general topic areas, outlined below. Collaboration among industry, national laboratories, and academic institutions is encouraged; teaming will be strongly considered during the application reviews. Applicants will also be encouraged to coordinate activities with the Department of Energy (DOE) Critical Materials Institute led by Ames Laboratory.

Topic Area 1: Engineering Validation of Existing Extraction Technologies
Responses to this Topic Area are to validate processes or procedures to recover these materials from geothermal fluids or produced waters. Proposals may include processes currently effective in other industries that may be transferable to high value/critical material/strategic materials extraction from geothermal fluids, or processes that already experimentally demonstrate effectiveness for material recovery.

Topic Area 2: U.S. Regional or Nationwide Assessment of High Value Materials in U.S. Geothermal Fluids and Produced Fluids
For the this Topic Area, the Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) seeks approaches to economically and quickly build a public, U.S.-wide resource assessment of dissolved critical and high-value materials that may be site-specific, region-wide, or a national assessment. A successful application will demonstrate expertise in geologic regimes as well as sampling and analysis.

The EERE Exchange system is currently designed to enforce hard deadlines for Concept Paper and Full Application submissions. The APPLY and SUBMIT buttons automatically disable at the defined submission deadlines. The intention of this design is to consistently enforce a standard deadline for all applications.

Applicants that experience issues with submissions PRIOR to the FOA Deadline: In the event that an Applicant experiences technical difficulties with a submission, the Applicant should contact the Exchange helpdesk for assistance (EERE-ExchangeSupport@hq.doe.gov). The Exchange helpdesk &/or the EERE eXCHANGE System Administrators (EERE-ExchangeSupport@hq.doe.gov) will assist the Applicant in resolving all issues.

Go to https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/default.aspx#FoaId43b60ce7-234d-43c8-8118-79afe7007dbf.

GEA Supports Geothermal Energy Efforts in Pakistan
The Geothermal Energy Association supported discussions between the U.S. and Pakistan on energy efforts at a two-day high-level clean energy business meeting this week in Washington DC. Karl Gawell, GEA’s executive director, spoke to attendees regarding the benefits of geothermal energy and the opportunities for business and clean energy growth. The U.S.-Pakistan Clean Energy Business Opportunities Conference was an opportunity for exchange between U.S. and Pakistan energy market stakeholders and representatives.

Javed Ahmad visits Geothermal Energy Association in 2013.
Javed Ahmad visits Geothermal Energy Association in 2013.

At the event, Javed Ahmad, Chairman, Energy Foundation–Pakistan announced that Geo Energy Pakistan would be building the first power plant in Pakistan. Ahmad said he expects a formal announcement for a 5-MW plant in the immediate future. Estimated potential for larger scale electricity generation in the country is around 12,000 MW, Ahmad noted. Challenges include a lack of in-depth studies and there is also no current regulatory regime for geothermal.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Pakistan hosted the event. USAID’s Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs has told GEA that USAID will be funding a geothermal resource assessment in the near future. Like East Africa, the region has an active rift and the country has done some preliminary work. Around 800 MW of renewable projects reached financial closure in the country last year. Its clean energy market has a positive outlook and the government is looking to diversify further away from oil. Almost 50% of installed projects are owned by private IPPs, with local Pakistan companies representing 8,000 MW.

State Department Applauds Geothermal PPA Signed in Nevis
Nevis Renewable Energy International has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Nevis Electricity Company, paving the way for geothermal energy production on the island for 25 years. The project is expected to begin operation as soon as 2017.

A press release from The Department of State applauded the November 20 signing. “This project not only has the potential to provide sustainable renewable power to the entire country, but also may lead to the first inter-island electrical interconnection in the Caribbean,” noted the release. “Over the past two years, the Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources has provided technical assistance to the Nevis Island Administration and the Nevis Electricity Company that has ultimately resulted in the signing of this PPA.”

The press release continued, “The United States Government, through its Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, aims to accelerate the diversification of Caribbean Energy systems through support for improved governance, increased access to finance, and enhanced donor coordination. The signing of this PPA is an important step towards Caribbean energy sustainability and security through the diversification of resources.”

In local press, Caribjournal.com quoted Deputy Premier of Nevis Mark Brantley: “The Nevis Geothermal Project will create increased economic growth, reduced power costs, increase employment and create new economic opportunities for local businesses,” said Brantley. “This is an important step to enhancing the leadership of Nevis in the transformational impacts of the new, post-fossil fuel world economy.”

Ormat Joins the American Business Act on Climate Pledge
Press Release (RENO, Nev.) December 1 — Ormat Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:ORA) announced today it has joined the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, joining more than 140 companies from across the American economy that are standing with the Obama Administration to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to climate action and to voice support for a strong outcome to the COP21 Paris climate negotiations.

We applaud the growing number of countries that have already set ambitious targets for climate action. In this context, we support the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.

We recognize that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment.

We put forth our pledges as follows:

Ormat Technologies, Inc.
For over 50 years, we have supported the development and operation of clean and renewable energy generation, focused on geothermal, recovered Energy Generation (REG) and other renewable energy technologies. Today, Ormat generates over 500 MW of clean, renewable, energy in the United States (out of 666 MW worldwide), and has provided over 2,000 MW of installed capacity worldwide of its “best-in-breed” technology.

We believe that action on climate change is imperative, and that growth in renewable electricity generation will continue to play a monumental role in meeting those climate change goals set forth today. We also support, and believe in, achieving more than the goals set in place today and the move towards 100% renewable generation as soon as possible.

We pledge to:
• Continue to develop and build clean, renewable, and reliable generation facilities through sound investment and long term operation.
• Continue to implement clean technologies, conserve water and reduce carbon footprint at our manufacturing facilities
• Commercialize and deploy new clean technologies, such as flexible geothermal generation and energy storage, to allow for the further reduction of fossil-fuel based generation.
• Produce over 4.5 million MWh of clean and renewable energy annually, offsetting over 4.7 million tons of CO2 from coal fired power plants.
• Promote the importance of renewable energy and climate change through education at the local, state, and federal levels by sharing our experiences and opening our doors for those who wish to understand what we do as a clean energy company.

Renewable Energy World North America Happening Next Week
The Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America 2015 is happening next week, December 8-10 in Las Vegas. The Geothermal Energy Association is on the planning committee of the event. The event is co-located with POWER-GEN International, the power generation industry’s largest annual power generation event. Tracks discussing geothermal energy will include the Large Scale Renewables Track and the Renewables in the Developing World Track. For program information go to http://www.renewableenergyworld-events.com/conference.html.

New Mexico Hosting December Meetings on Clean Power Plan
Via New Mexico Environment Department–The New Mexico Environment Department will host several public involvement meetings in December in order to share information, answer questions and receive initial public input on the options available for developing a State Plan in response to EPA’s Clean Power Plan. EPA’s Clean Power Plan sets requirements for certain electric generators to lower carbon dioxide emissions. States are then required to develop a plan to ensure that these federal requirements are met.

The meetings each begin with a brief introduction to the Clean Power Plan, followed by the opportunity for interested citizens to provide input to the New Mexico Environment Department and to ask questions regarding the final rule. Oral and written comments and questions will be accepted and can be sent in advance, if desired, to: NMENV-NMCPP@state.nm.us. Basic information about the Clean Power Plan will be provided and is also available at: http://www.env.nm.gov/aqb/CPP.htm.

The current schedule for December meetings:

  • Friday, December 4 3:00 – 5:00 pm Las Vegas, NM, City Council Chambers, 1700 N. Grand Avenue
  • Monday, December 7 1:00 – 3:00 pm Roswell, NM, Roswell-Chaves Co. Economic Development Corporation, 220 N. Main Street, Open House 12:00 – 1:00 pm at same location
  • Tuesday, December 8 10:00 – 12:00 am Las Cruces, NM, NMED District 3 Office, 2301 Entrada del Sol, Open House 12:00 – 1:00 pm at same location
  • Monday, December 14 1:00 – 3:00 pm Farmington, NM, San Juan College, School of Energy – Merrion Room, 4601 College Boulevard, Open House 12:00 – 1:00 pm at same location

Please contact Cindy Hollenberg, New Mexico Environment Department, at 505-476-4356 to RSVP or for further information. Visit: http://www.env.nm.gov/aqb/CPP.htm for information on the Clean Power Plan and ways to participate in the process of developing a State Plan. Detailed information on EPA’s Clean Power Plan is available at http://www2.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan/clean-power-plan-existing-power-plants.

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