Geothermal Makes Car Batteries and Attracts Textile Factories


New Tesla Model 3 
Photo credit: Tesla/YouTube

In this post:

*Geothermal Energy a Component in New Tesla Car
*Anomalously High Geothermal Heat is Melting Greenland’s Ice Sheet
*Nevis Project Begins Well Testing and Monitoring
*Chevron’s $3 Billion Asian Geothermal Assets Attract Global Suitors
*Geothermal Plants May Bring Textile Factories to Olkaria
*Fire Does No Harm to Mt. Apo Geothermal Plants
*Press Release: Ormat and Alevo to Jointly Build, Own and Operate First Energy Storage Project in Georgetown, Texas
*Southern Methodist University: Geothermal Lab Ready for Geothermal, Oil, Gas Industry Discussions
*GEA Seeks Entries for the Best in Geothermal: Sixth Annual GEA Honors
*Summit… With a Twist

Geothermal Energy a Component in New Tesla Car

The news is buzzing.  Tesla has received more than 130,000 reservations with a $1,000 pre-payment to be made after the launch event of their highly-anticipated new Model 3.  Tesla is taking an innovative approach with the car: in every Model 3 car, Tesla will utilize is a piece of geothermal energy.  The method is intriguing.

Electric cars require batteries, and batteries for cars usually utilize lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries. Lithium is a soft silver-white metal used for the batteries as an anode, where lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging. Li-ion batteries carry the advantage of higher density, equaling longer life, but also comprising a high cost per unit.

Lithium resources span various countries with the largest reserves located in Chile, Argentina, Australia, Canada, China and the United States, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Mining for the mineral is costly and currently on too small a scale for the big increase in demand.

With batteries the key component of electric cars, the economics of sourcing lithium and constructing the batteries is imperative for a future of electric cars. Though government incentives have played an important role, the access to lithium in Nevada appears to be one of the key decision points for Tesla to build its Gigafactory in the aforementioned state. The idea with the Gigafactory is quite simple: to create an economy of scale for the manufacturing of batteries that will help lower the cost of batteries and aid in creating an affordable car for the market.

Lithium can be found in geothermal brine, as in California and Nevada, and there are various efforts under development to obtain lithium from geothermal operations. One such company, Simbol Materials, has been developing a method to derive lithium, manganese and zinc from geothermal brine produced by geothermal operations in the Salton Sea area in California. While currently unclear what the status is on the company, other groups are acting accordingly, like Dajin Resources which also aims to extract lithium from brine.

With Tesla’s Gigafactory slated to begin operations this or early 2017, the company intends to build batteries on a grand scale powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, but also from geothermal power plants in Nevada.


Anomalously High Geothermal Heat is Melting Greenland’s Ice Sheet

Greenland sits atop a piping hot mantle of the Earth’s crust, which a new study claims is melting the base of the world’s second-largest ice sheet.

Between 35-80 million years ago, the island of Greenland moved over an area of “anomalously high geothermal flux,” states the research of scientists at the German Research Centre for Geosciences. The study’s authors “suggest that this anomaly explains the observed melting of the ice sheet’s base, which drives the vigorous subglacial hydrology and controls the position of the head of the enigmatic 750-km-long northeastern Greenland ice stream.”

“The geothermal anomaly which resulted from the Icelandic mantle-plume tens of millions of years ago is an important motor for today’s hydrology under the ice sheet and for the high flow-rate of the ice,” explained geoscientist Irina Rogozhina, one of the study’s authors, in a statement.

Rogozhina and her colleagues utilized “independent seismic, gravity and tectonic data” to demonstrate how Greenland moved over the “Iceland mantle plume” between 35-80 million years ago. Researchers posit their study adds to the debate surrounding Greenland’s future at a time when scientists are confronting the likely possibility that man-made global warming will cause massive amounts of ice melt.
“This, in turn, broadly influences the dynamic behavior of ice masses and must be included in studies of the future response to climate change,” Rogozhina said.

The study, linking melting at the base of Greenland’s ice sheet to geothermal activity, comes as scientists worry Greenland could melt faster than originally predicted. These worries were prompted by a recent study claiming Antarctica could melt faster than scientists thought – a report that relied on overheated climate models.

According to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) data, Greenland loses about 287 billion metric tons of ice per year. That’s got some scientists worried, especially those who believe global warming will accelerate that ice loss.

But research shows Greenland has been able to retain a large amount of ice, even in higher temperatures. A Denmark scientist published research three years ago showing “for six thousand years (roughly from 122,000 to 128,000 years ago) summer temperatures in Northwest Greenland, where her ice core was extracted, averaged a whopping 11°F warmer than the 20th century average,” according to a blog post by Cato Institute climate scientists Chip Knappenberger and Patrick Michaels.

“Remarkably, she estimated that Greenland only lost 30 per cent of its ice after six millennia,” the climate scientists wrote. “The integrated heat added to the ice over that span was roughly twenty times as much heat as humans could unload on it from greenhouse gases in 500 years, so the Greenland-driven apocalypse just isn’t going to happen.”


Nevis Project Begins Well Testing and Monitoring

In a recent release, Texas-based Thermal Energy Partners LLC (TEP) announced that testing has commenced in order to gather wellhead “shut-in” pressure data, casing integrity and reservoir pressure of the belowground geothermal resource for its 9 MW Nevis geothermal plant.

TEP’s latest announcement follows its choice in the selection of its ORC technology vendor, Turboden, who will equip high-efficiency binary cycle generation equipment to ramp up available energy from the Nevis geothermal area.

“These well tests are important for the future production of geothermal power in Nevis and will aide us in the final design of the geothermal ORC turbines. The shut in pressure testing will be followed in the next few weeks with more comprehensive (step-flow) testing which will define the reservoir properties, allowing us to collect samples of the produced steam from the geothermal reservoir. Nevis is poised to have a fully completed geothermal plant by the end of 2017 that will generate electric power from a high enthalpy geothermal resource”, said CEO of Thermal Energy Partners Bruce Cutright.

Deputy Premier Mark Brantley commented that “Nevis’ goals are to significantly cut energy costs to our citizens and to transition our Island to totally independent renewable energy. We will soon be able to produce zero-emission power and position ourselves as a future exporter of geothermal power to nearby islands”.

Thermal Energy Partners, Turboden and its Nevisian partners complete an innovative team that is setting the standard for creating a sustainable, green economy with substantial economic benefits for the island and the Caribbean as a whole.


Chevron’s $3 Billion Asian Geothermal Assets Attract Global Suitors

French utility Engie and Japan’s Marubeni are among several suitors readying to bid for Chevron Corp’s Asian geothermal energy blocks valued at around $3 billion, sources close to the matter said.
Potential buyers including Southeast Asian firms are drawn by the opportunity to gain control of large blocks of geothermal assets located in Indonesia and Philippines.

“There’s a lot of jostling going on to see who’s teaming up with whom. I expect to see companies forming consortiums for this big sale,” said one banker involved in the process. “The Japanese are key as whoever ties up with them would have access to low cost funding and that boosts their chances,” he elaborated.
Indicative bids for the assets are due this April, said several of the sources anonymously.

Similar to its rivals, Chevron is selling assets, cutting jobs globally and eliminating capital spending to save cash in a bid to preserve its dividend amid weak oil prices.

Chevron, which hired Citigroup as its adviser for the sale, started the auction last month, sources reported.
“For global players, it provides an entry into the geothermal markets in Indonesia and possibility of further expansion,” said consultancy Wood Mackenzie’s principal power analyst Bikal Pokharel.

Two Chevron subsidiaries head geothermal projects in Salak and Darajat fields in west Java with a capacity to generate nearly 650 MW. The combined output produces enough renewable energy to supply approximately 3 million homes, states Chevron’s website.

Pokharel said Indonesia had estimated a geothermal potential of 27,700 megawatts, the highest in the world, but its current installed capacity constitutes less than 5% of the island archipelago’s potential.
Pokharel said contradictory and untested regulations, land acquisition, building transmission infrastructure and finally lack of clarity in pricing methodology remained major challenges.

Medco Power, which runs two geothermal projects in Indonesia, is looing to buy the assets and would consider bringing on a partner due to the large value of the assets.

“We have expressed our interest in seeing the data on its asset,” Fazil Alfitri, president director of Medco Power, a subsidiary of Medco Energi Internasional, said.

Indonesia has revealed land and regulatory reforms aimed at boosting the generation of geothermal energy, but investment in renewables has lagged in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

Chevron also has a 40% interest in Philippine Geothermal Production Company, Inc., which generates steam energy for third party-owned geothermal power plants. They possess a combined generating capacity of 692 megawatts.

Southeast Asian power firms Aboitiz and Banpu Power may bid for Chevron’s assets, said sources. Banpu said it would consider the terms and size of the assets before making a decision.

Sources said Chinese power firms will also most likely participate in the auction.


Geothermal Plants May Bring Textile Factories to Olkaria

Kenya will position investors near geothermal plants to lower the cost of electricity and offer subsidies in order to compete with neighboring countries.

An official stated they will strategically place investors at the shores of Lake Naivasha near the geothermal power plant to eliminate transmission charges and up Kenya’s attractiveness factor.  “We are going to set them up at Naivasha near the geothermal plant where power is much cheaper since it is at the source,” the official explained.  He was speaking when he met with a trade delegation of investors from China, the US, Australia, the Netherlands and Bangladesh who in addition visited Tanzania and Ethiopia.

After the extension of the African Growth and Development Act (AGOA) trade agreement between the USA for the next ten years, Kenya has is positioned to benefit as companies in the apparel industry target East African economies to tap into duty-free access to America.

Kenya plans on creating a major industrial park over the next two years at Naivasha which will serve as the main location for the country’s textile and apparel industries.  The official said Epic Designs and CNH Apparel have already committed to take up 300 square feet of space at Athi river, drawn in by the benefits of geothermal electricity.


Fire Does No Harm to Mt. Apo Geothermal Plants

Filipino Energy Development Corp. stated Tuesday that its operations of the Mt. Apo geothermal plants remained unaffected by the fire in Mt. Apo in North Cotabato.  EDC informed the Philippine Stock Exchange the fire was approximately seven kilometers from the Mt. Apo geothermal’s perimeter.
“This is the third forest fire on Mt. Apo in 20 years and we are keenly aware of the fire risks at Mt. Apo when there is drought. Our forest protection rangers have the skills, equipment and training for this type of event,” business unit head James Villaroman said.

“Having planted over 2.5 million trees that we wish to nurture and protect, we proactively created layer upon layer upon layer of fire breaks in the forest just for this precise risk. Some of our fire breaks are over 20 meters wide, way over global recommended practice. Protecting our asset is something we take very seriously,” he continued.

“EDC is closely monitoring the fire. Its emergency response team and firefighting systems are in place and ready to take action in cooperation with local emergency services if it becomes necessary,” the company said.

“EDC forest patrols and aides together with the local government units of Kidapawan, Makilala and Magpet [also in Cotabato] and volunteers are still on alert. In the meantime that the risk is diminishing, they are widening and extending the firelines near the reforestation block of EDC as a risk mitigating measure,” it said.  EDC deployed members of its emergency unit to assist the groups handling the containment of the Mt. Apo fire.

EDC president and chief operating officer Richard Tantoco earlier said the company would allot the bulk of its earmarked capital expenditures to improve the reliability of the 112.5-MW Tongonan geothermal power plant in Leyte.  “Because last year, it cost us about P700 million ($15 million) in foregone revenues when the plant was down for six months, so we want to put investments on that to boost the reliability,” Tantoco said.

He said the company would spend around $93 million for the Tongonan project, which he estimated would take 145 days. “We already have all the equipment from Mitsubishi two years ago, it will arrive fourth quarter this year and all the units will start shutting down one after the other,” Tantoco explained.
He said the company was investing to improve the reliability of other assets like the 125-MW Upper Mahiao geothermal plant in Leyte: “For the Upper Mahiyao, we’ve ordered new motors from GE, they’ll arrive from Chicago in third or fourth quarter of this year. So we are also investing to boost the reliability of our assets,” Tantoco said.

The company, the country’s biggest geothermal producer, will also invest in geothermal drilling operations this year.

EDC, an affiliate of First Gen Corp., owns 1,441 megawatts of generating capacity comprising 1,159 MW of geothermal, 150 MW of wind, 132 MW of hydro and 4 MW of solar.


Press Release: Ormat and Alevo to Jointly Build, Own and Operate First Energy Storage Project in Georgetown, Texas

Ormat Technologies, Inc. recently announced its subsidiary has signed an agreement with a subsidiary of Alevo Group SA, a leading provider of energy storage systems, to jointly build, own and operate the Rabbit Hill Energy Storage Project, located in Georgetown, Texas.

Ormat will own and fund the majority of the Rabbit Hill energy storage project and under the terms of the agreements, will provide engineering, construction services and balance of plant equipment. Alevo will provide its innovative GridBank inorganic lithium ion energy storage system in conjunction with the power conversion systems. In addition, Alevo will provide ongoing management and operations and maintenance services for the life of the project.

The 10 MW project will consist of three GridBank™ enclosures and will provide fast responding regulation services (FRRS) as an open market participant in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), an independent system operator that manages the flow of electric power to Texas customers. The project represents an important milestone in the evolution of the Texas market, which has more wind installed than any other state and has a rapidly expanding base of installed solar energy projects. Integrating renewable energy into the grid will increasingly require the flexibility and capabilities that fast, accurate storage resources provide in order to balance the grid at lowest cost.

“Entering the energy storage market is a key component of our long term growth plan, helping us to further diversify revenues and advancing our goals of transitioning from a geothermal company to a recognized leader in the renewable energy industry,” commented Isaac Angel, Chief Executive Officer. “While we do not expect our initial expansion into this area to generate material revenues for Ormat, we anticipate that collaborating with Alevo, with its innovative technology and global presence will allow us to make significant progress towards our expansion in this field. We see the energy storage market as a meaningful growth driver for Ormat and for the renewable energy industry and we continue to work on similar and other initiatives to support value for our shareholders.”

“We are pleased to be partnering with the innovative and forward looking management of Ormat and look forward to building a long lasting relationship as we move towards a more efficient energy market” said Christopher Christiansen, President, Alevo Inc. “They have long been a leader in the renewable energy sector, and we are excited they have chosen Alevo for this exciting opportunity.”


Southern Methodist University: Geothermal Lab Ready for Geothermal, Oil, Gas Industry Discussions

Presenters have been announced for the 8th SMU Geothermal Laboratory conference “Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields”, April 25-26, 2016 on the SMU campus in Dallas, Texas.

Topics at the conference include:

*    Oilfield projects including geothermal energy from water flood and flare gas
*    Technology updates including ORC, logging tools and energy storage
*    Desalination including GTO projects and treatment of produced water
*    Geothermal research including thermal conductivity and heat flow
*    Additional sources and uses for geothermal energy including direct use and district heating

Presenting companies include:

*    DOE Geothermal Technologies Office
*    Idaho National Laboratory
*    National Renewable Energy Laboratory
*    Oak Ridge National Laboratory
*    AltaRock Energy
*    Blade Energy Partners
*    Cornell University
*    Deep River Group, LLC
*    Electric Power Engineers
*    Exergy S.p.A.
*    InnerGeo
*    Turboden S.r.l.
*    University of North Dakota

Join attendees from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Colombia and South Africa at this international event and make the most of this opportunity to learn about generating additional value from oil and gas fields.

Register today at

Contact Maria Richards at 214-768-1975 or for more information.  We look forward to seeing you in Dallas!

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.

Summit… With a Twist

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is pleased to hold its annual Summit with support from the National Hydropower Association (NHA) and the Biomass Power Association (BPA).

This year’s Baseload Renewable Energy Summit will feature the combined voices of three major baseload renewables.

Geothermal, hydropower, and biomass often face similar problems at three main levels- political, financial, and societal. 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 baseload, renewable energy sources for grid reliability, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and meeting rising energy demand.

Ms. Rani Chatrath
Marketing, Events, & International Initiatives Coordinator
Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) | +1 202 454 5261

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