Stillwater Inauguration, Salton Sea Advances, Developments Abroad


   Formal inauguration of Enel’s hybrid Stillwater plant in Nevada
(Photo courtesy Enel)

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In this post:
*Enel Green Power Inaugurates Triple Renewable Hybrid Plant in the US
*Another win for renewable energy in California
*ID and Imperial County launch Campaign
*KenGen Partners with Power Africa to Add 2,500 MW to Country’s Electric Grid
*Geothermal Could Lower China’s Air Pollution, Providing Power and Heat
*BCC Predicts Geothermal Market Will Reach $20.8 Billion by 2020
*GEA Seeks Entries for the Best in Geothermal: Sixth Annual GEA Honors
*Baseload Association Groups Bring Baseload Renewable Energy Summit to Reno
*GEA Comments on Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative 2.0

Enel Press Release: Enel Green Power Inaugurates Triple Renewable Hybrid Plant in the US

• Award-winning Stillwater facility is the first plant in the world to combine the continuous generating capacity of medium enthalpy, binary cycle geothermal power with solar photovoltaic and solar thermal

• Research findings between March and December 2015 confirm that the integration of a 2 MW solar thermal facility with a 33.1 MW geothermal plant increased overall output at Stillwater by 3.6% on production from geothermal only

• This is the first time empirical data from a commercial hybrid plant validates a theoretical hybrid model

• Stillwater paves the way for the deployment of hybrid solutions at other sites around the world

Fallon/Rome, March 29th, 2016 – Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Enel CEO Francesco Starace, Enel Green Power CEO Francesco Venturini and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval today attended the inauguration of Enel Green Power’s Stillwater renewable hybrid facility in Fallon, Nevada. Stillwater is the world’s first power plant to combine medium enthalpy, binary cycle geothermal, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technologies at the same site. The event was also attended by the Director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Dr. Martin Keller, U.S. Senator Dean Heller, US. Representative Mark Amodei and other U.S. national, state and local dignitaries.

“Stillwater showcases the pioneering technology innovation of Enel Green Power that is making us so successful in working with governments and business partners around the world to tackle environmental issues and climate change through renewable energy,” said Enel CEO Francesco Starace. “The lessons we are learning at this advanced geothermal-solar facility will be key to the development of other hybrid plants throughout the world. We will continue to invest in new technological solutions to maximise existing assets and support further growth, maintaining innovation and operational efficiency as a key driver of our strategic plan.”

By combining generation technologies of different profiles at one production site, energy availability is increased and energy intermittency reduced. Geothermal and solar (thermal and photovoltaic) are complementary, meaning that production from solar is higher during the sunniest and hottest days of the year, when the thermal efficiency of the geothermal plant is lower. The increased delivery of power during peak hours also enables a more load-following production profile. At the same time, sharing existing infrastructure enables costs-savings and reduction of the plant’s environmental impact per unit of energy produced and delivered.

In addition, research findings between March and December 2015 confirm that the combination of a 2 MW solar thermal facility with a 33.1 MW geothermal plant increased overall output at Stillwater by 3.6% compared with production from geothermal only. These findings were bolstered by the results of a study of the integration of geothermal and solar thermal. This is the first time empirical data from a commercial hybrid plant validates a theoretical hybrid model. This work was performed under the framework of the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL), under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office.
The Stillwater hybrid facility received the Geothermal Energy Association Honors award for “Technology Advancement” four times in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The Stillwater plant began operation in 2009 with the completion of the geothermal plant. Since then, the site has served as a hub of innovation for Enel Green Power (EGP). Making the most of its international reach, resources and partners, EGP looked to its own diverse renewable portfolio and the most advanced facilities in the world for more resourceful and innovative ways to maximise plant operations and output.

In 2012, the company added a 26.4 MW solar PV unit to the geothermal plant – at the time one of the largest PV systems of its kind in the United States. In 2015, the company developed a solar thermal system to operate in conjunction with the existing Stillwater geothermal power station. By combining three renewable sources at the same location for the first time, EGP was able to fully capitalise on already installed assets, creating a more efficient and productive overall plant.

IID Press Release: Another win for renewable energy in California

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors approved a lease agreement with Controlled Thermal Resources that will allow for the development of a new centralized geothermal power plant in the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area located in Southern California.

Once built, the new facility is expected to produce up to 250* megawatts of renewable energy per year and has the capacity to expand operations to 375 megawatts in future phases. On-ground drilling is expected to commence by the last quarter of 2016 with the power plant expected to be operational by 2020. The development schedule for this project will coincide with California’s renewable portfolio standard requirement that 50 percent of all energy procured by utilities must be derived from renewable resources by 2030.

Controlled Thermal Resource’s CEO, Rod Colwell praised the action saying the agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District signals a new era for geothermal energy production in the region. “Geothermal power has the capacity to provide baseload electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is fast becoming directly competitive with conventional fossil fuel plants,” Colwell said.

Under the agreement, Controlled Thermal Resources will lease approximately 1,880 acres of district-owned land for as many as 50 years, assuming specific development milestones are met. In return, the district will receive rent and generation royalties.

“We will be developing the world’s first technology to provide utility grade energy that is clean, safe and economically viable, with or without government incentives or subsidies,” Colwell said. “With the world’s focus now firmly set on renewable energy targets, projects like this one are imperative.”
According to reports from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2015, geothermal energy offers the highest baseload (24 /7) power supply capacity in the renewable resource sector. Geothermal energy is reported to produce power at 92 percent capacity compared to wind (38 percent capacity), solar (25 percent capacity), conventional coal (85 percent capacity) and advanced nuclear (90 percent capacity).

Imperial Irrigation District General Manager Kevin Kelley said the agreement falls in line with efforts made by the district to facilitate public-private partnerships that will drive renewable energy growth in the region, “The Salton Sea represents one of the most abundant and underutilized sources of renewable energy in the state, including one of the most prolific geothermal areas of the world.”

Imperial Irrigation District recently teamed up with Imperial County to launch the Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative, which calls for restoration and habitat creation as a means to avert a public health crisis while at the same time promoting development of renewable energy in the Salton Sea region.

* One megawatt is enough energy to power approximately 750 homes.


IID Press Release: ID and Imperial County launch Campaign

Recognizing the importance of 2015 and 2016 at the Salton Sea, Imperial Irrigation District and Imperial County have joined forces on a new public awareness effort to highlight the challenges, recent success and progress being made to restore the Salton Sea, avert a public health crisis and develop renewable energy in the region.

Components of the campaign include an updated website, outreach through print media and social media platforms, three display billboards at the Sacramento airport and two highway billboards in Imperial and Coachella valleys.

“The County of Imperial remains committed to Salton Sea restoration,” stated District 4 Supervisor Ryan Kelley. Although recent events exhibited by California leadership shows that the state recognizes responsibility, the billboard displays and other components of the campaign are also intended to keep the focus present in the minds of our state legislature and California regulatory bodies.”

By visiting, the public can view the latest news about the joint Imperial Irrigation District-Imperial County Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative.
“The Salton Sea will reach a tipping point after 2017, when mitigation water flowing to it comes to a halt and the local impacts of the largest ag-to-urban water transfer will rapidly materialize,” said Antonio Ortega, IID government affairs and communications officer. “The state of California, with its recent actions and proposed funding, has at least recognized that the Salton Sea is a high priority issue. Through this campaign, we hope to keep the public informed and ready to engage on advocacy efforts that may arise in 2016.”

The website features a dramatic animation of the decline of the sea, information on IID’s petition to the State Water Resources Control Board, local poverty and asthma demographics, information on the potential for renewable energy development in the region and the latest news on upcoming public workshops and key deadlines for Salton Sea related matters.


KenGen Partners with Power Africa to Add 2,500 MW to Country’s Electric Grid

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) recently initialed an agreement with Power Africa-Kenya to add 2,500 megawatts to the electric grid derived from geothermal sources by 2025. Under the agreement, the President Obama-spearheaded initiative will provide KenGen with a project development team and renewable energy experts to aid the country in achieving green energy goals.
In regards to the agreement, KenGen Managing Director Albert Mugo stated the project will focus on developing the huge geothermal potential in the African Rift Valley, estimated at 10,000 MW: “Despite the fact that geothermal power is cheap, renewable and environment friendly, only 6.5 per cent has been utilized in Kenya. Our partnership will help KenGen to leverage on its capacity to generate more clean energy and revenue.”

Through the partnership, Mugo explained, the company aims to increase operational efficiency and effectiveness by adopting international best practices for renewable energy project development.

Projects that are slated to benefit from the partnership include 140 MW Olkaria V, 70 MW Olkaria 1 Unit 6, the refurbishment of 51 MW Olkaria I and phase I of the 100MW Meru Wind Farm, scheduled for completion in 2018. The projects together need approximately $9 billion in funding. Mugo said the firm is weighing various financing options like public-private partnership to meet the high cash requirement.

The US Ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec, said that Power Africa has links to tools and global capabilities suited to meet KenGen’s needs: “Power Africa-Kenya, through its ongoing development programmes, aims to support KenGen in meeting its development goals, and will further seek to align its programmes across all US government agencies with KenGen’s priorities.”
The government aims to add over 5,000 MW to the national grid on the major part from green sources as it positions itself to become a front runner in championing renewable energy. Currently, KenGen’s geothermal capacity measures 514MW and comprises over half of the power consumed in Kenya. The country’s total geothermal power output is 614MW, ranking it the eighth largest geothermal power producer in the world and also the highest in Africa.

Following the signing of the several billion dollar Power Africa Act into law by President Obama, Kenya is positioned to benefit from the initiative along with five additional African nations.

Geothermal Could Lower China’s Air Pollution, Providing Power and Heat

Geothermal energy may soon play a much larger role in heating several heavily-polluted cities located in northern China that have historically been major consumers of coal and fallen victim to high levels of winter smog, an industry insider said.

“We need to fully utilize geothermal energy, a renewable clean energy buried underground, to replace coal as winter heating fuel,” said head of Huabei Oilfield Co, Huang Gang, whose company is headquartered in Cangzhou, Hebei province. “It could alleviate the severe smog in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.”

The company is a branch of domestic energy giant China National Petroleum Corp.

Hebei has recently been hit by smog in past years and at least six of its cities have suffered in the bottom 10 for air quality since the year 2013.

Massive coal consumption, especially among rural villages where it is commonly used for heating purposes, has been the major culprit of regional winter smog, said the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which suggested the region reduces its reliance on fossil fuels.

Total energy consumption in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region hit the equivalent of 456 metric million tons of coal in 2015. While other iterations of energy contributed to mix, 90% of the power was derived from coal.

A survey conducted by the China Geological Survey under the oversight of the Ministry of Land and Resources that was released in February 2016 stated that coal consumption emitted massive amounts of sulfur dioxide, with 80.8% of the total amount of sulfur dioxide stemming from energy consumption.

“Geothermal resources discovered during the process of extracting oil have been utilized to generate electricity and they have worked well during the past four years,” said Huang, who elaborated that his company had invested $15.4 million on exploiting buried geothermal resources.

The survey said geothermal resources are rich in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area and could constitute 87% of regional energy consumption if developed The survey added that, if the resources are fully utilized, the region could reduce the emission of carbon dioxide by 818 million tons annually, a major step towards improving air pollution.

“But currently, this renewable resource has failed to play its role in air quality improvement because of its limited use,” said Huang, who clarified that some governments and companies have explored geothermal resources as an option in providing heat for homes and greenhouses.

Huang stated that major investment would be required to fully exploit geothermal energy sources for the generation of power and heat, which would require policies to encourage and regulate participation from the private sector. Huang said that to date there are few such preferential policies.

Huang added that technical development in the exploration of geothermal resources as it now stands is not sufficient and that developers must focus on the sustainable use of the resources by recharging water back underground to enhance environmental protection.

“In the pursuit of cleaner air, we must promote the use of geothermal resources along with a scientific exploration plan that guarantees its sustainable use,” Huang said.

Zhang Laibin, the head of China University of Petroleum, stated that the central government should take the lead in mapping the concentrated locations of geothermal resources in China to offer a comprehensive, clear picture of the nation’s geothermal potential and that it should also introduce the basic mechanisms necessary to oversee sustainable exploration.


BCC Predicts Geothermal Market Will Reach $20.8 Billion by 2020

The geothermal power market globally is predicted to grow to nearly $20.8 billion in 2020 from approximately $12.9 billion in 2015, achieving a compound annual growth rate of 10%.
According to a report from BCC Research, geothermal market growth is mainly driven by Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America, with additional “huge opportunities” in the long term in the Honduras, Armenia, Spain, South Korea, Vietnam, Bolivia, Chile and Djibouti.

The following table displays the researcher’s capacity projections for the three types of geothermal power plants.

Type of plant 2015 capacity 2020 capacity CAGR
Dry steam 4,090.8 MW 5,837.8 MW 7.4%
Flash steam 6,298.7 MW 10,801.4 MW 11.4%
Binary cycle 2,463.8 MW 3,922.0 MW 9.7%

“In the long term, increasing demand for renewable energy production and infrastructure development in developing regions along with the increasing demand for power transmission across long distances and increasing investments in geothermal energy generation, smart grids and power infrastructure will be key drivers of this market,” BCC analyst Aneesh Kumar explained.


GEA Seeks Entries for the Best in Geothermal: Sixth Annual GEA Honors

On March 25, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) announced a call for entries for GEA Honors 2016, a program designed to showcase the most inspiring developments in the geothermal industry. Nominations are currently being accepted for the awards program. An application may be submitted for more than one award category. This year, awards will be given to the geothermal industry in the following categories:

Technological Advancement: Awarded to an individual or company that has developed a new, innovative or pioneering technology to further geothermal development.

Environmental Stewardship: Awarded to an individual or company that has fostered outstanding environmental stewardship through the use of geothermal systems.

Economic Development: Awarded to an individual or company that has made a substantial contribution to the development of local, regional or national markets through the development of geothermal systems.

Special Recognition: Nominations will also be accepted for special recognition of individuals and companies for outstanding achievement in the geothermal industry.

The GEA Honors program deadline for nominations is Friday, May 13. Winners will be announced on June 7 at a reception kicking off GEA’s Baseload Renewable Energy Summit in Reno. To submit an application, please visit:

Last year’s GEA Honors award winners included Senator Harry Reid, Senator Ben Hueso, CEC Geothermal Grant and Loan Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Ormat Technologies, Enel Green Power North America, and Cyrq Energy.

Baseload Association Groups Bring Baseload Renewable Energy Summit to Reno

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is pleased to be holding its fifth annual National Geothermal Summit early this summer, but with a twist. This year, the leading forum for western state policy discussions will team up with the National Hydropower Association (NHA), and the Biomass Power Association (BPA) to create a new spin on the annual event. The “Baseload and Renewable Energy Summit will be held on June 7-8, 2016 at the Grand Sierra in Reno, NV.

Geothermal, hydropower, and biomass often face similar problems at three main levels- political, financial, and societal. As in previous years, the Summit will focus on voicing key issues faced by the geothermal industry to both state and federal policy makers. In parallel to this, industry experts in hydropower and biomass will join panel discussions to shed light on the critical importance of base-load, renewable energy sources for grid reliability, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and meeting rising energy demand.

Event and registration details can be found at For more information, please contact Rani Chatrath at

GEA Comments on Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative 2.0

Background (from

California is currently on a solid trajectory to meet the state’s 33 percent renewable energy mandate by 2020 and to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In April of 2015, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued Executive Order B-30-15 establishing a new statewide intermediate target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, in order to guide policy and maintain momentum to reduce GHG emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. “With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it’s one that must be reached—for this generation and generations to come,” said Governor Brown.

An important part of meeting California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals is moving toward a largely carbon-free electricity system, through energy efficiency, renewable electricity, and increased coordination of supply and demand across the electric grid. To meet these goals, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 (Chapter 547, Statutes of 2015) was signed into law on October 7, 2015, which establishes targets to increase retail sales of qualified renewable electricity to at least 50 percent by 2030 and double the energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas end uses by 2030. Implementing this new mandate with other supply and demand-side program options will require new investments in the state’s electric transmission system. This effort will require planning and coordination across the state and the West.

To facilitate electric transmission coordination and planning, the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Independent System Operator have initiated the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative 2.0, also known as RETI 2.0. RETI 2.0 is an open, transparent, and science-based process that will explore the abundant renewable generation resources in California and throughout the West, consider critical land use and environmental constraints, and identify potential transmission opportunities that could access and integrate renewable energy with the most environmental, economic, and community benefits.

March 16 Workshop

On March 16, the California Energy Commission held a workshop asking specific questions to be addressed as input to the RETI process. The workshop information is available at:

In response to the questions asked Ben Matek, Industry Analyst & Research Projects Manager, provided the following response.

1. What renewable energy zones in California and across the West may be of most interest to California utilities and developers by the 2030 timeframe?

An area of high priority and interest to the geothermal industry is the undeveloped Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area in Imperial Valley (SSKGRA). This resource is one of the largest geothermal fields in the world capable of producing an additional 1,700 to 2,300 MW of geothermal power by 2030. This power could be used in state, or exported to surrounding states. Building out resources like the SSKGRA keeps the economic and tax benefits of developing renewable energy technology in state.

Additional areas of interest include new capacity additions that could be brought on at The Geysers, several small projects in Northern California, and undeveloped resources that exist in Mono County.

2. Costs: What is the latest data regarding the costs of various renewable technologies in different resources zones? Has new technology or more efficient practices changed costs dramatically? What costs may foreseeably change significantly?

Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) recommends using the following ranges of capital cost for “typical project costs.” While the occasional outlier project may cost more than this range to bring online, geothermal developers are unlikely to start a project with the assertion that it will cost more than this range. The lower ends of these ranges are for expanding existing facilities or adding bottoming cycle binary units. The middle of these ranges are more common for new facilities. These figures are extrapolated using Department of the Treasury’s 1603 Cash Grant Data.

Some guidelines on using these numbers:

i. Expansions to existing facilities will be on the lower end of this range. This includes expansions to a facility and its associated drilled area to increase the level of power the plant produces. Many new plants to come online in the US fall in this category or bullet “ii” below.

ii. Typically new plants on existing fields will be in the middle of this range. These are projects where development of the geothermal reservoir occurred previously or has supported plant operation in the past.

iii. New Greenfield plants are normally the most expensive, although costs are very sitespecific and depend on the criteria laid out in bullet “iv” below.

iv. Because of economies of scale, plant efficiencies, resource enthalpy, and reservoir depth, smaller lower temperature geothermal power projects are usually the most expensive, and large high temperature projects are often the least expensive per kW of generating capacity. When using any capital cost number, it is important to look at the assumptions that went into calculating that cost number. Often two geothermal cost numbers are not comparable between projects because of the unique assumptions that determined resource or plant costs

3. Values: What is the latest data or analysis regarding the value(s) that various renewable technologies in different resources zones can provide to the utility or markets? Has new technology or more efficient practices changed the values that resources can provide to the grid dramatically? What values may foreseeably change significantly.

Specifically, adding geothermal resources to the electricity grid, reduces overall grid costs, reduces the overall amount of curtailments, increases resource diversity, and has shown to be a critical technology that reduces overall electricity rates in a post 33% RPS world. Some up to date analysis comes straight from the latest Energy Division Staff Paper on Draft 2016 Portfolios for Generation and Transmission Planning. The California Public Unities Commission (CPUC) found that “Forcing in high-quality geothermal resources (Geothermal 2 portfolio) decreases the total generic resources needed by 2026 due to the high capacity factor of geothermal plants relative to solar PV and wind plants. Forcing in geothermal resources also decreases the PV ratio and decreases curtailment, but increases the transmission infrastructure needed for full deliverability.”

The staff paper further states that, “Reducing geothermal costs and forcing in geothermal resources at the same time (Geothermal 3 portfolio) has the same impact on total generic resources, transmission needs, PV ratio, and curtailment as simply setting aside geothermal resources. The lower geothermal cost assumption, however, reduces the revenue requirement and rate impact relative to the default portfolio, even after accounting for increased transmission infrastructure.”

The CPUC continues to discuss how these impacts are dependent on the cost assumptions used for these portfolios. After carefully reviewing the RPS calculator, GEA has determined many of the cost inputs that impact the outcome of these scenarios are entirely incorrect and substantially more expensive than a realistic project. GEA is looking forward to working with the CPUC in the very near future to adjust these assumptions in order to capture the true beneficial contribution of geothermal to the electrical grid.

A study from Department of Energy that reverse engineered the Levelized Cost Of Energy (LCOE) from public Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), and estimated LCOE’s for geothermal projects built in the last decade ranged from roughly $40 to $80/MWh.4 The capital cost assumed by the CPUC in the forecasted scenarios discussed above are around ~5000/kW which generates an LCOE of around $92/kW at their lowest cost in the RPS calculator. This LCOE is higher than any contracted PPA in California in a decade, which range from $17/MWh for legacy facilities to $90/MWh for new facilities. In conclusion, the actual LCOE of geothermal projects is substantially less than the CPUC’s current modeling depicts, indicating that the sensitivities where geothermal projects increase costs (Geothermal Sensitivity 2) for the ratepayer, and substantially raise revenue requirements cannot be true in reality. California’s own modeling shows geothermal has substantial value to the grid when resources are procured at a very high LCOE of $92/MWh or less.

4. Utility interest: How do utility resource planners plan to supply electricity in 2030 that is at least 50% renewable, at least 40% lower in GHG, while also safe, reliable, and as low cost as possible? What types of renewable resources do they expect will be needed by their company to meet their mandates?

GEA sees few possible scenarios where increasing the amount of fossil fuel resources to backstop additionally intermittent resources could realize carbon reduction goals. A recent study by Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies stated, “California can achieve a 50% reduction in CO2 levels by 2030 in the electric sector under a wide variety of scenarios and assumptions. Conventional grid flexibility assumptions and the less diverse portfolio (High Solar) led to 14% more carbon emissions than the more diverse Target portfolio with enhanced flexibility.” 5 In order to maintain a safe, reliable, and low cost grid mostly composed of renewable energy resources, a diverse portfolio will necessary.

5. Commercial interest: Where do commercial renewable interests see the greatest opportunity for responsible development? Where are they most interested in offering projects?

A December 2015 survey of geothermal developers identified the following projects by county in California and Nevada that could provide additional renewable generation to California to help it meet its 2030 target of 50% renewable consumption and GHG goals. Note, early stages projects lack specific resource estimates below. However, these are still projects that could be realistically built by 2030. The typical project built today is in 25-50 MW increments. If these resources are determined to be suitable for power generation, it’s safe to assume they would be brought online in similar increments.

For citations and supplementary figures, view PDF at link below:

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