At the Beginning of 2016, Geothermal Advances On Governmental and Technological Fronts

Salton Sea

The Geothermal Resource Council’s Map of Active and Potential Geothermal Locations Around the Salton Sea

(Study: Refined Conceptual Modeling and a New Resource Estimate for the Salton Sea Geothermal Field, Imperial Valley, California, Hulen et al. 2002)

In this post:
*Democratic Leaders Call for Action on Renewable Energy Tax Credits, Hard Fight Ahead?
*Registrations for GEA US and International Showcase Continue to Roll In
*IID Urges California to Finance Salton Sea Fixes with Geothermal as a Solution
*New Geothermal Technology Could Help Reduce Carbon Emissions
*Disagreement Over Geothermal Steam Pricing in Indonesia
*California Energy Commission to Conduct Workshop for Geothermal Power Stakeholders
*SMU Geothermal Conference, Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields, Puts Out Call for Abstracts
*An Introduction to the New Geothermal News and Communications Specialist, Allie Nelson

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

Democratic Leaders Call for Action on Renewable Energy Tax Credits, Hard Fight Ahead?

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D – Nev.) has vowed to fix a tax glitch in the recent omnibus spending bill that, while lifting the ban on crude oil exports, also contained the extension of a tax credit that applied specifically to solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC, Section 48) and wind Production Tax Credit (PTC, Section 45). House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) has called for fast corrective action as well. Many stakeholders say the five year tax credit extension should have included other renewables like geothermal, but due to rushed negotiations at the end of the year there was miscommunication.

It is unclear whether geothermal and a range of other technologies were accidentally neglected or intentionally left out. For geothermal there is a unique confusion because geothermal technology is listed in both Section 45 and Section 48. Washington sources stated that the possible mistake resulted from a closed-door meeting and from staff working quickly to release the bill in time for a vote before 2016. Besides, there’s little question that wind and solar were the primary focus of negotiations, since they make up more than 90% of the cost to the Treasury, as one observer noted.

What the Congress did complete before adjourning is complicated. Here’s a snapshot: In the final agreement, the Section 45 PTC for geothermal, hydropower and biomass was extended to the end of 2016, and there was no phase out specified. The solar 30% tax investment credit will be available until the end of 2019, with a shrinking value in 2020 and 2021 in a phase-out. The wind PTC is extended at 100% through 2016, then has a shrinking value through 2019 in a phase-out.

The question now is whether when Congress returns next week it will place a priority on Senate Democratic Leader Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s calls for adding into the phase-out deals all of Section 45 and 48 technologies. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (D-TX) has said he’ll revisit the issue, but has made no promises of fast action. A host of technologies wait for word of whether they will have longer term tax incentives, including geothermal, biomass, hydropower, combined heat and power, microturbines, fuel cells, small wind, landfill gas, municipal solid waste, waste-heat-to-power, and marine hydrokinetic.

“I expect it will not be easy to fix as some appear to suggest, and that for the sake of having a future industry we will need to work hard to secure a level playing field in tax incentives,” said Karl Gawell, GEA’s Executive Director. “We need the community to galvanize behind us to get this done as quickly as possible,” he added.

Link: (subscription required)

Registrations for GEA US and International Showcase Continue to Roll In

Excitement is building as GEA’s International Showcase draws closer, scheduled for March 17 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Just this week, registrants from Indonesia, Burundi and Uganda registered. As COP21 advancements become more prominent, addressing climate change issues while meeting rising energy demand to support economic growth remains a focal topic.

With the International Showcase’s worldwide focus, topics to be discussed include market developments in the US and regional market developments in emerging economies in Africa, Latin America, and Asia and the Pacific. Many of these regions are striving to meet an impressive amount of their energy supply needs from geothermal.

Geothermal technologies allow countries in the process of building infrastructure and expanding their power grids to develop as a clean energy economy. The International Showcase will provide a chance for a diverse set of representatives spanning the globe to exchange ideas and learn about the latest developments on the geothermal front. GEA will also release the much anticipated 2016 annual report on geothermal power development.

Early bird registration ends January 15, providing a considerable discount.

For more information on the International Showcase, please visit GEA’s website at

To register, please visit

For questions regarding the program or opportunities for sponsorships, please contact Rani Chatrath at To request press credentials, please contact Allie Nelson at

IID Urges California to Finance Salton Sea Fixes with Geothermal as a Solution

Much progress has been made surrounding the dwindling Salton Sea, but stakeholders are hesitant to declare victory yet. On January 5, representatives from the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) and other interested parties visited Sacramento to campaign for action on the Salton Sea, making a strong case for California to fund fixes to the vulnerable lake and invest in geothermal energy development, a surefire way to create restoration funds.

Tuesday’s appeal was directed towards the state water board, who were spurred into action by an IID petition. Despite progress made during the water board workshop, the amount the California government funds Salton Sea restoration, and therefore geothermal, will be determined by Gov. Jerry Brown and the legislature, with a budget to be released today (Jan. 7).

As for geothermal, a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) highlights the prohibitive costs for requiring energy companies to finance Salton Sea restoration projects themselves. Instead, the NREL report underscores the importance of state investment in geothermal to make it economically feasible to restore the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea offers a unique experimental ground where geothermal technology can showcase what an American clean energy economy can look like. A fully functioning geothermal network around the Salton Sea would be a glimpse into a sustainable future. Most importantly, it would help the state meet its 50% clean energy mandate.


New Geothermal Technology Could Help Reduce Carbon Emissions

A team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Ohio State University, the University of Minnesota and TerraCOH, Inc. recently published what could be an innovative solution to meeting the temperature rise limitations proposed at the Paris Climate Agreements.

In a study in the December issue of Mechanical Engineering, the team detailed a subsurface energy system that could draw on geothermal energy while simultaneously storing energy from above-ground sources and then distribute the energy in turn throughout the grid like a huge, underground battery. The system would store atmospheric CO2 from power plants as an added benefit.

The paper’s lead author, Thomas Buscheck, believes his team’s innovative technology is a cost-effective solution to storing energy for a long enough period to be used at a later time. The team’s technology involves injecting CO2 resembling liquid into sedimentary rock reservoirs in order to generate a “pressurized plume” that brings brine production wells aboveground. The resulting brine is capable of being heated and then reinjected to contain thermal energy.

The then-pressurized CO2 could act as a “shock absorber,” which would allow the system to be activated or deactivated according to supply and demand. In the case of a lack of renewable energy, the brine and pressurized CO2 could then be “released and converted to power.” The resulting brine can even be diverted and, using desalination technologies, be turned into water.

According to the study, the system could store a minimum of 4 million tons of CO2 over 30 years, which equals the output of a 600 MW coal plant. Innovative technologies like Buscheck and colleagues’ are becoming more prevalent as the world searches for ways to mitigate climate change.


Disagreement Over Geothermal Steam Pricing in Indonesia

Issues have arisen over an attempted negotiation for steam price sales between Pertamina Geothermal Energy, the geothermal division of Indonesian state energy firm Pertamina, and the electricity firm Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN). Pertamina will cease sales of steam for the Kamojang geothermal power plant in West Java after the two parties failed to agree on a lower steam price.

The disagreement casts a negative light on the future of geothermal development in Indonesia, whose competitiveness is in peril due to constantly low global and coal prices. Pertamina officials state that they need a fair price to make investing in geothermal projects worthwhile. There is a struggle to balance the price for customers with the need for sufficient funding.

Fortunately, the State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) Ministry has vowed to solve the disagreement, and the SOE deputy of energy Edwin Hidayat Abdullah has spoken with both PLN and Pertamina. Deputy Abdullah has facilitated discussion and negotiations are underway.


California Energy Commission to Conduct Workshop for Geothermal Power Stakeholders

Inspired by GEA’s research, California Energy Commission staff will conduct a workshop Thursday, January 28, 2016 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m to gather input from geothermal power stakeholders in order to identify research priorities that will address current barriers facing geothermal power plant operation. The focus will be on flexibility, cost drivers, and other issues. This workshop will help staff refine an upcoming solicitation to help address flexibility and other research and development (R&D) needs for existing geothermal facilities. Remote and physical attendance is available, and verbal and online comments may be submitted online or delivered during the event. See link for more details.

Workshop Agenda:

The workshop will include a panel discussion followed by comments and questions from the public. A panel of experts from a variety of backgrounds including industry, academia, utilities, and state and local agencies may be invited to participate in a moderated discussion aimed at identifying the most pressing research needs. The discussion will allow stakeholders to voice their opinions and suggest research recommendations.


SMU Geothermal Conference, Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields, Puts out Call for Abstracts

The SMU Geothermal Lab is hosting its yearly conference in Dallas, TX from April 25-26, 2016 on the SMU Campus and has put out a call for abstracts. The event includes:

• Half-day Workshop, April 25, 2016
• Networking Reception and Poster Session, April 25, 2016
• Conference with oral presentations and panel discussions, April 26, 2016

The conference goal is to advance understanding of energy production, helping companies successfully produce clean energy while extending the life of an oil and gas field.

Topics include:
• Desalination
• Well Conversion
• Induced Seismicity
• Heat Extraction Technology
• Thermal Conductivity Analysis
• Enhanced Deep Earth Permeability
• Low-temperature Mineral Recovery
• Onshore and Offshore Thermal Maturation
• Power Generation from Flare Gas and Well Water
• Sustainability of Heat Extraction from Decommissioned Petroleum Wells

SMU invites you to submit an abstract for the poster session or a 15 minute oral presentation. We are also accepting suggestions and abstracts for panel discussions. Submit your 1-2 page abstract to by February 5, 2016.

Abstract guidelines:

Contact: Maria Richards,, 214-768-1975

An Introduction to the New Geothermal News and Communications Specialist, Allie Nelson

Happy New Year! My name is Allie Nelson and I am the new Geothermal News and Communications Specialist at GEA. I am excited to join the team and bring you the latest news on the geothermal front. I have a background in environmental science and policy and a passion for renewable energy. I come into the position with a curiosity about the renewable energy field and expertise in conservation, communications, and editorial work. I previously worked at several nonprofits, publicizing a wide range of topics from tropical conservation to anti-poaching initiatives, and am excited to step into the field of geothermal energy.

Since I was young, I have been fascinated by the natural world and how it supports human life, creating energy that can be tapped into in a myriad ways. Interested in sustainability and the rapidly changing energy landscape, I hope to make a difference by covering the latest news in geothermal technology and developments while spreading awareness of the numerous opportunities in this ever-growing field.

Leslie left very big shoes to fill and I will work to deliver the same up-to-date content each week. If you have any leads, questions, or concerns, feel free to send them to me at I’m always on the lookout for the newest developments in geothermal. I look forward to hearing from you and bringing you stories hot off the presses.

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