Baseload Tax Incentive Extension Appeal, Growing Geothermal Investments Abroad, and US Projects Under Development

urban heat island
An illustration of geothermal potential below “urban heat islands.”
Source: Climate Change News

In this post:
*Senate Turns to Energy Bill, Baseload Groups Ask for Tax Incentive Extension
*Notice: GEA is Collecting Information for 2016 Annual US & International Geothermal Power Production and Development Report
*Scientists Harnessing Satellite Technology to Locate New Sources of Geothermal Energy Below Cities
*Desco Inc. Will Acquire 80% Stake of Basic Energy Corp. In CamSur Geothermal Service Contract
*Investors Boost Turkey’s Geothermal Market PLUTO Initiative
*GEA Member US Geothermal Intends to Develop 68 MW of Geothermal Projects in 2016
*Clean Energy Plans in Nevada as Transmission Line Expands

Senate Turns to Energy Bill, Baseload Groups Ask for Tax Incentive Extension

After months of waiting, the Senate is finally turning to the Energy Bill passed out of Committee 18-4 last September. The Senate is now bringing the bill up for debate, amendment and a final vote which will likely take a week or more.

The Bill, S.2012, has several important geothermal provisions that pull together legislation offered by Senators Wyden, Crapo, Merkley, Murkowski, Risch, Heller, and others. It would direct BLM to increase geothermal production on federal lands, simplify exploration permitting, ease restrictions on co-production, facilitate development of new discoveries, and direct the USGS to identify the geothermal resource base over the next decade.

Meanwhile, the “baseload” renewables groups have weighed in with House and Senate leadership in a joint letter urging a five year extension of the PTC for their technologies. The groups explained: “The PATH Act enacted into law at the end of 2015 extended tax credits for our technologies through the end of 2016, while tax incentives for wind and solar – non-baseload technologies with which we directly compete – were extended for a much longer period of time. As proposed, baseload energy projects continue to compete for scarce investment dollars, the policies adopted at the end of 2015 tip the scales against investment in our technologies, putting them at a distinct disadvantage.”

The letter was signed by the Geothermal Energy Association, the National Hydropower Association, the Biomass Power Association, the Energy Recovery Council, and the American Biogas Council. It was not clear how or whether Congress would act soon to address what was largely called a drafting error in the final Omnibus legislation passed last year.

Notice: GEA is Collecting Information for 2016 Annual US & International Geothermal Power Production and Development Report

GEA is gathering information for its 2016 Annual US & International Geothermal Power
Production and Development Report. If you are developing geothermal projects in the US
or internationally, and you would like to submit information on that project for inclusion in
the 2016 report, please contact Benjamin Matek at or at
1.202.454.5291 no later than February 1st, or fill out this survey on-line:

Scientists Harnessing Satellite Technology to Locate New Sources of Geothermal Energy Below Cities

German and Swiss scientists have devised a method of gauging groundwater temperature obscured by city surfaces utilizing surface temperatures and building density, based on parameters measured by satellites. Many factors like population density, vegetation growth, and surface sealing all factor into why cities are typically hotter than the country, a phenomenon known as ‘urban heat islands.’ For years, scientists have used satellites to measure heat on the Earth’s surface, but the connection between ground temperatures and underground temperatures has not been studied in-depth.

To develop an understanding of how thermal conduction works between the surface and underground heat islands, the scientists compared underground and above-ground temperatures in four German cities including Berlin. Their findings included the observation that the older a city is, the more pronounced its underground heat. About 95% of the areas studied had a higher groundwater than surface temperature. The scientists attributed this pattern to a greater wealth of underground anthropogenic heat sources like cellars and sewers.

The higher temperature in groundwater could be potentially used as a renewable energy source for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer via geothermal or groundwater heat pumps. As the team has so far only studied four cities, the scientists acknowledge that more research needs to be conducted to refine the system. Still, the study, recently published in Environmental Science & Technology, could very well help the geothermal community better establish cost- and time-effective ways to remotely measure the geothermal value of heat stored beneath cities.

“This method can be applied for a first assessment of underground heat islands and, hence, of ecological conditions in the groundwater and of the geothermal potential,” said Karlsruhe Institute of Technology geoscientist Philipp Blum. “No complex groundwater temperature measurements and interpolations are required.”


Desco Inc. Will Acquire 80% Stake of Basic Energy Corp. In CamSur Geothermal Service Contract

Basic Energy Corp. (BEC), an oil and gas exploration firm, has made official its partnership with Desco Inc. regarding the sale of BEC’s 80% stake in a geothermal service contract (GSC). In a stock exchange disclosure on Jan. 18, BEC stated it signed a deed of assignment and farm-in agreement with Desco “to acquire from Basic 80% undivided participating interest in the rights, interests, privileges, duties and obligations in and under the Iriga Geothermal Project, subject to the approval of the Department of Energy.”

According to the agreement, Desco will completely shoulder the cost of the geographical survey and other necessary activities to bring the Iriga GSC to drilling. Desco hopes to begin initial activities in February. Additionally, Desco will provide 100% of the cost to drill the first well. For following wells, the cost, detailed in the agreement, will be shared pro rate between BEC and Desco: 80% paid by Desco and 20% by BEC. The project is located in the Iriga, Camarines Sur geothermal landscape and is bordered by other geothermal projects.


Investors Boost Turkey’s Geothermal Market PLUTO Initiative

On Jan. 14 at the 35th Energy Efficiency Forum in Istanbul the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) announced they are initiating a program to fund exploratory drilling investments in order to tap into Turkey’s large geothermal resources. The new $125 million aptly-named PLUTO initiative will provide funds and advice to private developers in order to lower the risks associated with the initial stages of geothermal projects, according to EBRD.

PLUTO brings together $100 million from the EBRD and $25 million from the CTF, which comprises a funding window of the Climate Investment Funds. PLUTO is an effort that stems from a global push by development banks to ramp up geothermal energy production. PLUTO is a two-phase program: Phase one will facilitate geothermal exploration thanks to CTF funds. The second phase depends upon if exploration confirms geothermal resources, at which point the EBRD will finance the end stages of drilling and power plant construction.

PLUTO’s goal is to create five new geothermal power plants whose total capacity will be 60 MW at the lowest, providing over 450 GW of clean electricity per year. PLUTO, if successful, would increase the installed geothermal capacity in Turkey by over 10%, helping the country meet its renewable energy goals. Currently, approximately 600 MW of geothermal capacity have been installed in Turkey, comprising only 13% of the country’s geothermal potential, which is estimated to be 4.5 GW.


GEA Member US Geothermal Intends to Develop 68 MW of Geothermal Projects in 2016

GEA board member US Geothermal is developing four geothermal projects totaling 68 MW this year. The company announced that their approximately 30 MW WGP Geysers project in CA had finished well testing and that an interconnection study will be completed this February. Their second project, the 10 MW San Emidio Phase II development in NV will continue drilling and, if all goes according to plans, will finish the interconnection process with NV Energy in mid-2016.

At the 3 MW Neal Hot Springs facility in OR, water supply drilling is underway, supporting a hybrid cooling project. The final project is the 25 MW El Ceibillo plant located in Guatemala, where the country’s Ministry of Energy and Mines approved a concession schedule agreement. To date, the drilling of three additional wells has also been completed at El Ceibillo.

US Geothermal predicts a net income of $3 million and $7 million in 2016. Company CEO Dennis Gilles said: “Our focus is on advancing our development projects. We have an excellent pipeline of projects and, combined with the favorable legislative environment, should enable us to improve our year over year performance and advance us towards our goal of becoming the North American leader in geothermal.”


Clean Energy Plans in Nevada as Transmission Line Expands

Clark County, Nevada, will be the site of a transmission line expansion dubbed One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line) that will greatly increase the state’s ability to export clean energy, possibly including geothermal. The infrastructure in question, the One Nevada Transmission Line, which recently joined the state’s southern and northern power grids, will grow between the Harry Allen generating station in Clark County and the Eldorado substation outside Boulder City. The distance spanned will be approximately 65 miles.

LS Power and GEA member NV Energy were chosen by the California Independent System Operator to work in tandem to expand the transmission line. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D. – Nev.) commented that the ON Line project would increase his state’s exports of clean energy, which will in turn create opportunities for more renewable energy projects like geothermal power plants.

“Today is another big day for clean energy in Nevada,” Reid said, as noted by the Las Vegas-Review Journal. “ON Line is a game changer for clean energy development in Nevada and our economy,” Reid said. “This expansion will create even more jobs and unlock more of Nevada’s clean energy potential.” With an interest in renewable energy, Reid worded language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016 to guarantee that the transmission line would be allowed to pass through the Three Kids Mine site in Southern Nevada.

Nev. Gov. Brian Sandoval also promoted the ON Line project, highlighting it as a move that will enhance the exportation and integration of Nevada’s plentiful renewable energy resources like geothermal, solar, and wind. In a large step towards Nevada’s renewable future, Sandoval noted: “While approximately one-third of Nevada’s current renewable generation is exported out of state, the additional 200 MW of transfer capability offered by this transmission project will enable greater access to neighboring markets and result in more construction jobs associated with renewable energy industry in Nevada.”



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