Idaho Tops Renewable Power Ranking, New Geothermal Opportunities, Projects Make Headway

In this post:
*Western States Renewable Power Ranking Released – Idaho Tops the List
*Thank you to GEA Members New and Renewed!
*NREL Press Release: NREL Helping the Bureau of Land Management Dive Further into Hot Water
*Geothermal Opportunities Could Provide New Employment for Alberta Citizens
*Eastland Group Press Release: Te Ahi O Maui Signs Construction Deal With Ormat
*Turawell Geothermal Project Hungary
*CA Department of Conservation Press Release: Geothermal Energy Veteran Charlene Wardlow Joins CA. Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources
*Still Hope for Hawaiian Geothermal Impact Study in Puna
*Ormat’s Tungsten Mountain Geothermal Project Receives Nevada Tax Incentive
*SUNY Broome Community College Wins $1 Million in Geothermal Project Funding
*New Software Streamlines Feasibility of Geothermal Exploitation
*Caribbean Forum on Geothermal Energy Makes Headway Last Week
*DOE Release: DOE-Funded Project is First Permanent Facility to Co-produce Electricity from Geothermal Resources at an Oil and Gas Well
*Press Release: Dewhurst Group Selected as Lead Geothermal Project Manager for KfW Fund
*Request for Proposals: Development of a Risk Mitigation Mechanism for Geothermal Development in East Africa

NREL Geothermal Resources Map

US Geothermal Resources

Image Credit: NREL 2011

Western States Renewable Power Ranking Released – Idaho Tops the List

Idaho tops the Western States in renewable power generation, according to a ranking released today by the Geothermal Energy Association. “When you consider both baseload and intermittent renewable power, Idaho is a leader,” said Karl Gawell Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association. The ranking of the 13 Western States is shown below. The ranking is being distributed in support of the first Baseload Renewable Energy Summit, being held in Reno, Nevada June 7-8, The event is hosted by the Geothermal Energy Association, National Hydropower Association and Biomass Power Association to explore the role of baseload renewable technologies in a low-carbon future.

“As the Western states moves toward a low-carbon future, the role and outlook for all renewable power technologies needs to be examined,” Gawell stated. “Finding the right mix of technologies is an important question for decision-makers to explore if the Western states are going to find the least-cost, minimum impact path to a low carbon future,” said Karl Gawell, the Geothermal Energy Association’s Executive Director.
GEA also released Baseload Renewables: The Important Facts, available at It explains: “The discussion surrounding the least-cost grid powered by mostly renewables has forgotten the importance of baseload resources to balance intermittent renewable and replace retiring and dirty coal generation megawatt for megawatt. Baseload renewable can help load serving entities avoid incurring additional costs from purchasing and then balancing renewable intermittent power sources with storage or new transmission.”

Western States Renewable Power Ranking

Ranking State                   % all renewables*            % baseload renewables**


#1           Idaho                                   82%                                     64%

#2           Washington                       76%                                     70%

#3           Oregon                                              74%                                     61%

#4           Montana                            45%                                     38%

#5           California                           30%                                     18%

#6           Alaska                                 29%                                     26%

#7           Nevada                               19%                                     15%

#8           Colorado                            17%                                     3%

#9           Hawaii                                 12%                                     6%

#10        Wyoming                            11%                                     2%

#11        New Mexico                      9%                                        0%

#12        Arizona                               8%                                        5%

#13        Utah                                    4%                                        2%


*2014 generation wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydropower as percentage of total

**2014 generation geothermal, biomass and hydropower as percentage of total

Source: GEA, 2016, based upon data from EIA September 2015.

Thank you to GEA Members New and Renewed!

GEA works to put geothermal on the map in Washington, Sacramento, and elsewhere. We depend upon our members support to do so.   We work to make a difference so that the industry and your company can succeed.

This week we want to say thank you to following new/renewed GEA Members:

GreenFire Energy Inc.

Roy Mink (Mink GeoHydro Inc)

Cooling Tower Depot

Watch for more thank you’s in future editions of GEW! If you need information about membership go to: or contact

NREL Press Release: NREL Helping the Bureau of Land Management Dive Further into Hot Water

Geothermal energy is there for the taking, provided you know where to look and want to invest the time and money to drill into the earth. The process can be complicated, but work being undertaken at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will make it less so.

That’s important, because untapped geothermal energy stands ready to fill a need as states and the federal government push to generate more electricity from renewable sources. But adding geothermal-generated electricity to the grid can take years.

The BLM is tasked with the responsibility of deciding appropriate uses for 245 million acres of public lands, such as whether to allow the operation of geothermal plants. All states possess geothermal energy, but a dozen have been identified as the best potential sources for traditional hydrothermal power.

But where, under all that real estate, are the best places to drill?

“With solar and wind resources, it’s easier to see if it’s available,” said Katherine Young, a geothermal energy engineer who works at NREL in the Technology Systems and Sustainability Analysis Group in the Strategic Energy Analysis Center. “It’s easy to measure when the sun’s shining and when the wind’s blowing. With geothermal you have to spend a lot of money to confirm that resource is there.”

Young and a team of NREL analysts worked with the BLM (and other federal and state agencies) several years ago when NREL develop an online resource called the Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) Toolkit. The RAPID Toolkit allows agencies, industry, and developers to easily see the regulatory steps needed to develop renewable power projects-including those steps needed to tap into geothermal resources. Now the BLM has approached NREL with a half-dozen more tasks it wants NREL to assist with.

For the BLM, NREL will:

Provide technical and regulatory analysis that the agency can use to develop a program for inspecting geothermal wells, similar to what’s required of oil and gas wells Update information about wells as part of an effort to create an agency-wide digital database of geothermal projects on federal lands Develop a screening tool for projects that could cause induced seismicity.

The scope of work could be expanded as additional funds become available. NREL also may be asked to analyze the possibility of coming up with a new classification of wells that could quicken the permitting process, and analyze the benefits and challenges of creating a centralized BLM geothermal permitting office in the West to handle geothermal development projects.

The BLM is managing 818 geothermal leases, with 59 already in production mode and an estimated capacity to produce 1,500 megawatts of energy.Another 1,250 megawatts of geothermal energy is in some stage of development.

Opening a Plant Can Take Years

As a baseload renewable-meaning it can produce electricity around the clock-geothermal has advantages over other types of renewable resources.It emits little to no greenhouse gases, for example, and has the smallest geographical footprint of any renewable. Tapping into the earth’s geothermal energy requires exploratory drilling, going a mile or more down to find the reservoir of extremely hot water that can be used to generate electricity. Technology also exists to inject fluid into the earth, where it comes into contact with hot rocks and creates a geothermal reservoir.

The U.S. geothermal market is the largest in the world, based on installed capacity. However, only a small fraction of electricity in the United States is generated using geothermal plants-on the order of about 0.4%, whereas 67% comes from fossil fuels. The rate at which new utility-scale geothermal plants are able to open has been slow, largely because the process is long and complicated and requires a series of permits. From the initial steps of leasing land and drilling exploratory wells, the actual opening of a geothermal plant can take 5-10 years.

The BLM doesn’t have any target for how much it would like to increase the use of geothermal resources. That’s not what the agency does.

“They’re basically the property manager, issuing and overseeing leases to private companies,” said Scott Haase, a senior engineer at NREL and the laboratory’s liaison with the Department of the Interior, which oversees the BLM.

Like any good property manager, however, the BLM needs to know what it has available for lease. The agency took over management of geothermal resources on federal lands from the U.S. Geological Survey in the early 1980s, but “since then they haven’t had a clear, consistent system for collecting data,” Young said. “Some states used an internal reporting system and some states didn’t.”

Among the tasks BLM has asked NREL to accomplish is filling in the blanks. Two interns will spend 17 weeks this summer visiting BLM field offices to scour the records from 1983 on. The interns will examine reams of paper to discover such information as geothermal applications and whether a well was actually drilled, and follow up on-site on the status of a well.

Lorenzo Trimble, the BLM’s geothermal program lead, said the goal of this task “is to make sure that data is consistent across all databases and to fill gaps in data to ensure information can be accessed more readily.”

The White House in 2013 directed the federal government to more than double the percentage of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, but didn’t specify which sources of renewable energy must be increased to meet that target. At the request of the Energy Department’s Geothermal Technologies Office, NREL investigated the feasibility of geothermal playing a significant role in that goal.

Young and co-author Anna Wall reported the barriers now causing delays that, if addressed, could open the doors for geothermal development in the United States-increasing electricity from geothermal from the present 3.8 gigawatts to 7.6 gigawatts by 2020. The largest barriers identified by the study include financing, permitting, and power purchase agreements. Additional work is underway this year to systematically identify and quantify barriers to geothermal deployment as part of the GTO’s GeoVision Study.

California, which has a newly enacted law requiring investor-owned utilities to generate 50% of electricity from renewable resources by 2030, has the potential to get nearly a quarter of its power from geothermal. A program that dates to 1980 provides grants to developers looking to tap into California’s geothermal reservoirs.

“If you find the resource, the grant turns into a low-interest loan,” Young said. “In these cases, the state gets the money back, and the royalties and lease payments from development on federal lands in California go to fund further exploration.”

The BLM maintains a vibrant program to deal with oil and gas leases on the public lands it oversees. The agency’s most recent Public Lands Statistics report, which covers fiscal year 2014, noted 1,043 non-competitive leases had been signed during the year for oil and gas exploration efforts, compared to eight for geothermal activity.

In helping the BLM improve its efforts to better monitor interest in geothermal activity, Young and others at NREL will use resources already developed for the oil and gas industry.

“These projects will provide the BLM geothermal staff with technical data and analyses to help them develop programs and regulations that could help to reduce barriers to geothermal development on federal lands,” Young said.

Exploring Potential in California

While NREL has begun work on the first several tasks the BLM has asked for, the Colorado laboratory has already been looking into how to add more geothermal energy into the power mix.

NREL identified 11 areas in the country with the greatest potential for geothermal development. California was home to five of those areas. At the top of the list is the Salton Sea, at 365 square miles the largest lake in the state and one of the biggest geothermal anomalies in the United States. A report co-authored by Haase late last year estimated1,350 megawatts of electricity could be generated from geothermal by 2030.

“The challenge with geothermal right now is it’s a little more expensive to develop,” Haase said. “You’ve got to drill wells. It’s a corrosive environment. You’re pulling up hot brine that’s full of minerals.Especially in the Salton Sea area, it’s a very corrosive brine so a lot of the piping and equipment needs to be titanium, so that makes it expensive.”

Haase said that while utilities are required to use more renewable energy, there’s nothing that says they must use a baseload resource.”Solar and natural gas have a lower cost than geothermal, but if you’re trying to move away from gas as well, then you need something that’s a baseload renewable like geothermal.”

The value of baseload energy sources is high, according to Greg Brinkman. A member of the Energy Forecasting and Modeling Group in NREL’s Strategic Energy Analysis Center, Brinkman recently completed an analysis detailing how California could reduce its carbon emissions from the state’s electric power sector by 50%. The research looked at scenarios that would enable California to reach that target by 2030.

One scenario examined a diverse mix of sources, with 56% coming from renewables. Another also had 56% of renewables but a less diverse portfolio and a heavy reliance on solar power. Geothermal played a part in each scenario, but was most important to the scenario with the diverse portfolio; 9% of electricity would come from geothermal in that instance, compared to the current 5% and 3% under the solar-heavy proposal.

A key conclusion of the analysis was the less diverse portfolio could lead to higher costs partly because the electrical grid may not be flexible enough to deal with so much solar power if certain changes aren’t made in the way the grid operates. That could lead to wasted energy and wasted money.

“Geothermal is a low-risk hedge against a less-flexible, less-diverse grid,” Brinkman said.


Geothermal Opportunities Could Provide New Employment for Alberta Citizens

Abandoned oil and gas wells in Alberta are rising — but where many see a growing liability, Alberta’s fledgling geothermal industry foresees massive opportunity.

“We’ve got these old wells that we know are hot and we’re going to fill them with cement and walk away,” says Tim Davies, CEO of geothermal company Turkana. “It’s just stupid.”

As it stands, there’s no permitting framework in place for geothermal in Alberta, leaving the renewable energy out of play.

“I own the well, I own the land and I own the oil. But I can’t own the heat,” Davies said. “There’s just no mechanism for that in place.”

“The oil business has drilled 400,000 wells in Alberta alone,” Alison Thompson, president of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, told DeSmog Canada. “They’ve already found all the hot water the province has.”

“The oil patch has those skills to get the most out of every well,” Thompson elaborating, noting that the workforce has been hamstrung by a lack of forward thinking policies.

The number of orphaned wells — left in the wake of a mass exodus of oil and gas producers — has quadrupled in the last year.

Ben Lee, owner of Raven Thermal Systems, says the oil and gas sector’s loss could be the geothermal industry’s gain.

“For the first time in more than a decade you’ve got very skilled workers that have exactly the skillset that a successful geothermal project needs,” Lee told DeSmog Canada.

Geothermal energy draws on the earth’s natural warmth to create a renewable form of energy with a low environmental footprint and virtually no carbon emissions. Importantly, geothermal provides reliable baseload capacity, like a hydropower dam or gas-fired power plant, guaranteeing system stability.

Despite being home to enormous geothermal potential, Canada is the only country on the Pacific Ring of Fire that doesn’t harness the resource to produce commercial-scale energy.

CanGEA released a report in late 2014 that found geothermal could supply all of the energy needs of British Columbia for much cheaper than the Site C dam, currently under construction.

“You’ve got top-notch geologists, reservoir engineers, drilling and completion engineers, surface engineers and all the associated landmen and everything else that comes along with a successful drilling program,” Lee explained.

“They are available, and available on the cheap to some extent right now, because there is so much supply.”

Lee, who has a degree in aerospace engineering and specializes in heat transfer systems, used to work in other resource industries but last year founded Raven when he saw an opportunity to bring underutilized geothermal energy to the forefront.

However, Alberta has yet to see a single geothermal operation materialize.

Lee said the regulatory climate in Canada has failed to keep pace with knowledge of Canada’s vast geothermal potential. As it stands, there is no licensing framework in place for the development of geothermal energy in Alberta.

For Lee and others struggling to find work in the province, waiting for policy to catch up has been painful.

“We have some very available high-end skill that’s sitting around and could be very quickly turned around because at the end of the day whether you’re drilling for oil or drilling for hot water, the process is the same.”

Craig Dunn, an exploration geologist with Borealis Geothermal, the only company in Canada to have a geothermal exploration permit for B.C., explained that many of the techniques used to develop oil and gas deposits are directly applicable to geothermal.

The steam-assisted gravity drainage, or SAGD, used to recover bitumen deposits in the Alberta oilsands is “basically geothermal in reverse,” Dunn said, saying with one steam is pumped into a reservoir and in the other steam is pumped out.

“I got into this because one of my last jobs was in a heavy oil play,” Dunn said. “And I thought, ‘is this the best we can do? Is this a resource we want to hand down to our children?’ ”

Canadian Companies Going Abroad for Geothermal Opportunity

Brett Erickson from FlashPoint Resources Management Inc., a Calgary-based drilling and completions firm, said his company has been busy applying its skills in Nicaragua and other countries, such as the U.S., that are open to geothermal development.

“Alberta has some of the best engineers and best mind power when it comes to drilling and power generation as a whole,” he said, but other countries “are ahead of Canada when it comes to green energy.”

“I believe it’s because we’ve got access to easier, cheaper energy like oil, gas and coal,” Erickson said. He added geothermal is pricy to start but it’s “the greenest energy out there.”

“It’s a lot more reliable than hydro or wind,” he said, “with less of a footprint.”

Erickson said it’s going to take some help to get geothermal up and running in Canada.

“It is an expensive technology but over the long term it has a payback and that’s what investors care about, the long-term payback,” Erickson said.

Proving geothermal is low risk but high return has been a key struggle for geothermal companies in Canada, Erickson elaborated. “With the downturn in oil there are investors that are sitting on money that usually would have gone to oil projects.”

“The pieces are in place for geothermal to take off in Canada.”

Thompson, who previously worked with companies interested in using geothermal energy to lower the carbon footprint of the oilsands, said industry is eager for the opportunity to apply what they know to this new resource to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“If someone would just at the government level formulate a task force…we don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Thompson said. “It’s plug and play. That’s what we’re hoping for.”


Eastland Group Press Release: Te Ahi O Maui Signs Construction Deal With Ormat

The Te Ahi O Maui partnership and an Israeli company, Ormat, signed a deal last week for the construction of a new geothermal power plant near Kawerau, New Zealand.

The Te Ahi O Maui geothermal project is a partnership between Eastland Generation and the Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust, who are owners of the land on which the plant will be constructed.

Ormat is a world-leader in the development and construction of state of the art and environmentally sound geothermal power solutions. Listed on the New York Stock Exchange and employing over 1,000 people worldwide, Ormat has supplied geothermal power to over 23 countries.

Matt Todd, Chairman of the Te Ahi O Maui board and Chief Executive of Eastland Group, says he is pleased the project has partnered with Ormat for construction of the power plant. “Ormat has over 30 years’ experience in the New Zealand geothermal energy industry and is involved in 12 geothermal projects around the country. They have the necessary skills and knowledge that we can rely on for the successful delivery of the Te Ahi Ō Maui project.”

Trustee for the Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust and Cultural Advisor to the project, Tomairangi Fox, said this milestone is very significant for his people. As kaitiaki of the land, the Kawerau A8D Trust members work closely with the project managers to ensure the mauri, or life force, of the land and its people is protected and enhanced. “We’ve seen the other Ormat plants here in Kawerau and further afield. We liked what we saw and this company’s operations and plants fit with our kaupapa,” said Mr Fox.

Colleen Skerrett-White, owner and past-trustee of the A8D Trust, and assistant to the project team, said, “We have measures in place so that Te Ahi O Maui will have minimal impact on the surrounding environment and its people. For example, our standards for environmental care go over and above Regional Council consent conditions. Our project team has worked really hard to ensure the project is executed in an environmentally friendly, sustainable and culturally appropriate way; Ormat will help us achieve this.”

Te Ahi O Maui holds resource consent for the take and discharge of 15,000 tonnes per day of geothermal fluid from the Kawerau geothermal reservoir. Te Ahi O Maui Project Manager, Ben Gibson, says that Ormat’s technology is well suited to the Kawerau field. “We believe that this new plant should deliver in excess of 22 megawatts (MW) of electricity.”

Mr Gibson advised that although exact timing depends on a successful drilling campaign, he expects construction of the power plant will start towards the end of this year with completion likely in 2018.


Turawell Geothermal Project Hungary

KS Orka Renewables Pte Ltd of Singapore (KS ORKA) has contracted Mannvit for the complete engineering services for the Turawell geothermal combined heat and power (CHP) project in Hungary. KS Orka has acquired a majority share of the Turawell project from a local developer with the aim of producing electricity in addition to providing thermal energy to facilities in the area. The implementation of the Turawell project will benefit from the combined experience of KS Orka and Mannvit, e.g. in Iceland and Asia.

Mr. Lárus Hólm, Manager of Mannvit’s Budapest office said “We’ve been active in geothermal consulting in Hungary and the Central- and Eastern Europe area for a decade, therefore it is remarkable to see the increase taking place in geothermal projects both in direct usage and power plant projects in the area,” adding “this plant will become the first geothermal CHP plant in Hungary. This project together with the Croatia geothermal project underway is yet another milestone in the geothermal sector in the Pannonian basin, providing considerable contribution for those countries in meeting the EU’s 2020 goals of increasing their usage of emissions free renewable energy.

Filipino Geothermal Feed-in-Tariff

The Filipino Department of Energy (DOE) is acquiescent to proposals of including geothermal technology in the pool of renewable energy (RE) projects that will be incentivized under the feed-in-tariff (FIT) system.

Secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada has qualified that this set of perks will only be granted to project developers based on the recommendation of the National Renewable Energy Board.

Monsada said the NREB must carry out an extensive study on the proposal; and will subsequently deliver its policy recommendations to the DOE for approval.

“It (FIT for geothermal) can be considered… we will have to review it,” the energy secretary said. The FIT subsidy is typically extended to qualified projects at a fixed rate for 20 years.

At this stage, Monsada highlighted that they may only be amenable to granting FIT incentives to low enthalpy geothermal resources alongside developments of smaller capacities.

“It (FIT) could be done for low enthalpy geothermal and smaller capacities… there should be special incentive to develop especially if we really want to improve geothermal share in the mix,” Monsada pointed out.

Monsada emphasized though that given propounded capacity limit on installations, the FIT system may no longer apply to big-ticket projects.

When questioned what would be an ideal capacity cap to be underpinned by FIT subsidy, the energy chief simply asserted that “it should be part of the NREB study.”

Monsada added that it is necessary for the NREB to additionally assess what could be a wiser policy approach – if the FIT will be based on steam temperature or the capacity or scale of the resource.

It has consistently been leading Filipino geothermal player Energy Development Corporation (EDC) that put forward the proposal on FIT system for geothermal projects – seeking a FIT charge of P5.00 to P6.00 per kilowatt hour (kwh) for baseload type of development on the technology.

However, several industry players are raising questions on how that can be enforced without necessarily subverting the provisions of the Renewable Energy Law.


CA Department of Conservation Press Release: Geothermal Energy Veteran Charlene Wardlow Joins CA. Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources

Sacramento — Charlene Wardlow, a veteran of the geothermal industry, has been named Geothermal Program Manager and District Deputy in charge of the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources’ Northern District, based in Sacramento. Wardlow will start her new role with the California Department of Conservation (DOC) on April 28.

“We believe that Charlene’s knowledge of geothermal energy will be a tremendous asset as we continue the reorganization and modernization of the Division to be more efficient, effective and responsive in its mission of protecting the environment as well as public health and safety,” said DOC Director David Bunn.

“We described the steps we’ll be taking to improve our regulation of oil and gas operations in our Renewal Plan, issued last July. One of Charlene’s first priorities will be to identify ways in which we can bolster our oversight of California’s robust geothermal energy industry.”

California is the United States’ largest generator of electricity from geothermal energy. In 2014, California received nearly 4.4 percent of its electrical energy from geothermal resources (about 13,000 Gigawatt-hours). The state has more than 650 active, high-temperature geothermal wells (with fluids over 212 degrees Fahrenheit) and 230 injection wells. The Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources oversees the drilling, operation, maintenance, plugging, and abandonment of geothermal wells on state and private lands.

Wardlow has 30 years of experience working in the geothermal industry, primarily in California. She has focused on environmental permitting and compliance and in developing new projects. Notably, her résumé includes working at The Geysers – the world’s largest geothermal energy facility – for 23 years. Prior to joining DOC, she served as Director of Business Development for the Ormatt geothermal facility in Reno, Nevada.

Wardlow is a long-time member of the Board of Directors of the Geothermal Resources Council, and received the Council’s Special Achievement Award for her work in the geothermal industry. She earned her undergraduate degree in geology and a master’s in petroleum engineering from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.


Still Hope for Hawaiian Geothermal Impact Study in Puna

Critics of geothermal development in Puna, Hawaii left a Windward Planning Commission on Thursday a little more hopeful that they can break through a bureaucratic logjam that has held up a study on impacts to Native Hawaiians.

Tom Travis, a representative of the Puna Pono Alliance, stated they would resubmit a request to have the $293,760 study funded through Hawaii County’s geothermal asset fund, which was established to mitigate impacts from Puna Geothermal Venture.

The commission initialed the claim in January 2015 but rescinded it two months later due to concerns that the proposal didn’t match the fund’s procurement requirements.

Following that, nothing happened, prompting study supporters to slam commission members and planning officials at a March 2016 meeting.

But recently, commission members once again assured them they share their frustrations and that they too want to get the study done. The claim just needs to satisfy all the strings attached to the fund, they explained.

“It needs to (get through) the bureaucratic bumblings,” said commission Chairman Charles Heaukulani.

The best way for the group, which included longtime geothermal activists and Hawaiian cultural practitioners who worship the volcano goddess Pele, to accomplish that was to rewrite the proposal to better fit the requirements, officials stated.

Travis said he aimed to bring the matter back on the commission’s agenda next month.

James Owens, a claims adjuster hired by the county Planning Department, said he recommended the claim be denied since it wasn’t written to be Puna specific and wasn’t addressing a specific injury. Additionally, no one was identified as being responsible for handling the funds, he said.

“It says they will look for a claim,” Owens remarked on the proposed study. “A claim has to exist already.”

As an example, Owens said he could claim an injury for someone punching him in the face and causing a physical injury but not for insulting him.

“I think at this point some people want to punch us in the face,” joked commission member Raylene Moses, noting the frustration in the room.

Heaukulani asked if that means he would rule out spiritual impacts from geothermal development. Some Hawaiians see that as an insult to Pele.

Owens said he would have to see the claim first.

Claimants Puna Pono Alliance, Pele Defense Fund, Sierra Club-Moku Loa Group, Ohana Hoopakele and Malu ‘Aina had selected Michael Edelstein, an environmental psychologist, to conduct the study.

The funding request says Edelstein would “conduct a baseline and prospective psycho-social impact assessment on the Big Island of Hawaii in order to identify both past, existing and potential adverse impacts upon Native Hawaiians associated with the development of geothermal energy generation facilities.”


Ormat’s Tungsten Mountain Geothermal Project Receives Nevada Tax Incentive

Ormat Technologies, Inc. was officially given the incentive for their Tungsten Mountain geothermal power plant after complying with federal statutes requiring that the project provide employment for Nevadans, a living wage with comprehensive health benefits, and a major capital investment in the Western state.

After coming online, the Tungsten Mountain power plant will have a production capacity of 24 MW, drawing on heat from several production wells spanning 1,355 acres in Churchill County, Nevada. The generated power will be fed into the state’s electric grid via a 16.5 mile, 230 kilovolt transmission line and, employing ON-Line transmission services, supply renewable energy to a California utility.

“It is exciting to see more of Nevada’s abundant geothermal resources being developed and utilizing the expanded transmission infrastructure that has enabled more exportation options to the California market,” said GOE Director Angie Dykema. “This project is another example of Nevada’s commitment to become a major renewable energy producer and exporter in the West.”

The tax incentive provided to Ormat is $11.8 million covering two decades. The total profit Nevada expects to receive from the geothermal project is $113 million, including employee wages, property and school support taxes, alongside a capital investment worth $94 million dollars. This represents more than a 10-to-1 return on Nevada’s investment, far exceeding the loss of revenue from the tax incentive.

“The Tungsten tax incentive is another great example of how government and industry are working to bring sustainable jobs and business to Nevada,” explained Isaac Angel, CEO at Ormat. “Incentives such as these are critical in allowing Nevada to take advantage of its vast renewable resources in today’s highly competitive renewable energy market while bringing quality jobs and economic development to rural areas of our home state. To date Ormat has commissioned over 150 MWs under this tax incentive program creating significant economic development in Nevada creating a win-win for industry and the State and we look forward to continuing to develop these clean, reliable and flexible resources for the benefit of Nevadans and the region in general.”

The Tungsten geothermal power plant is set to create 69 full-time construction jobs with an average hourly wage of $41.05 and five full-time operational jobs with an average hourly wage for state residents of $30.

The GOE decision to approve Ormat’s tax incentive request highlights GOE’s ability to foster cooperation among stakeholders, spearhead initiatives to stimulate economic development and attract energy related business ventures like site development, generation and production, and inter/intrastate transmission.

SUNY Broome Community College Wins $1 Million in Geothermal Project Funding

SUNY Broome Community College will receive $1 million in funding to support to a geothermal energy system after it was chosen as one of three “Energy to Lead Competition” winners in New York state this week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the winners of the program, launched last October 2015, that challenged student-led groups from New York colleges and universities to design and outline creative plans for campus and community-wide clean-energy projects. New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) oversaw the innovative program.

The competition “is challenging New York’s emerging energy leaders to turn innovative ideas into cutting-edge solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy bills and improve resiliency in communities across the state,” Cuomo explained.

SUNY Broome’s “Geothermal Learning Laboratory” project will demonstrate how a geothermal system can heat and cool a campus, serve as a hands-on learning resource for college and secondary school students, and produce energy bill savings that can be reinvested in energy conservation measures, according to a news release detailing the awards. The project is expected to cut 135 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

“The greening of SUNY Broome just took a huge leap forward,” President Kevin Drumm said. “This initiative will substantially decrease our carbon footprint while fostering student involvement in sustainability efforts and entrepreneurship.”

The competition is part of Cuomo’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” strategy, which has set goals – by 2030 – of generating 50% of it’s electricity from renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels and reduce energy consumption in buildings by 23% from 2012 levels.

“This student-led competition puts SUNY Broome at the forefront of efforts to help the state meet its ambitious energy goals,” commented Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell. “The Geothermal Learning Lab will reduce the college’s energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while helping students prepare for the green jobs of the future.”

The other winning schools were Bard College and the University at Buffalo.

New Software Streamlines Feasibility of Geothermal Exploitation

In order to thoroughly assess the underground temperature required for harnessing geothermal energy in active geologic systems, researchers at the Institute for Renewable Energy (IER) of the National University of Mexico (UNAM) designed and generated software that measures the thermal diffusivity of the subsoil, or the speed at which heat is transferred through subsurface rocks without removing them from the ground.

The newly developed tool collects in situ data with temperature measurements from the shaft in 36 hours. The thermal history is reconstructed from the start of drilling, during and in recovery. A number of parameters can be determined including heat flux, cementation processes, or the viability of exploiting the geothermal resources.

Dr. Jorge Wong, the project’s leader, explained that the so-called “simulator to determine the formation diffusivity at the bottom of geothermal wells,” developed since 2013, works as a start module with the polynomial rational method, patented in 2015 by its inventors.

In order to effectively utilize subsurface energy, the system’s thermal behavior must be determined. Traditionally, wells are perforated for exploration, and subsurface rocks are extracted and sent to a lab for thermal property analysis; however, over the course of the extraction and transfer, conditions change. With this innovative tool, researchers can determine the characteristics of the rocks without displacing them.

“During drilling, we do not know what we will find regarding thermal conditions. Usually there are abnormal temperature changes-at three or four kilometers, the temperature can be higher that 200 degrees Celsius. So at the end of the drilling process, the sludge that was used has cooled the underground. To know its original temperature, we need to wait for its recovery, becoming a nonviable process of wasted time and money,” the researcher said.

Hence, this development simulates the drilling process and heat recovery proposing a diffusivity value, with these results, the team compares the data measured to achieve recovery until its calibration, through which subsurface diffusivity is determined.

Thus, compared to the weeks or months it takes for the multi-layered lab analysis, this simulator displays a thermal history of the site in a short time away from the field. Using only the values of initial temperature, it can obtain accurate results with a margin of error of less than 3%.

With further development, the simulator will detail the thermophysical subsurface conditions in order to define processes involved in the exploitation of hydrothermal geothermal systems, including even hot dry rock.

“We work on improving the simulator in terms of speed, all this as technology advances. Our goal is that we can contribute our expertise in the development of geothermal energy in Mexico, important area in the exploitation of the geothermal resource worldwide,” said Dr. Wong

Caribbean Forum on Geothermal Energy Makes Headway Last Week

St. Kitts and Nevis and other nations in the Caribbean that have begun investigating geothermal energy exploration are being supported by the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) exemplified by a Regional Geothermal Forum recently held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.

Under the theme “Opportunities and Synergies for Collaboration” government and various stakeholders across the Caribbean gathered to formulate a collaborative agenda on how to best approach geothermal development. Judith Ephraim, OECS Commission Programme Officer of the Sustainable Energy Unit, who was one of several guests on the government program “Working for You” provided insight on the approach of the two regional organizations with respect to geothermal energy.

“For us at the OECS, we see that geothermal energy will require collaborative effort, and that is why we teamed up with our colleagues at the CARICOM Energy Programme,” Ms. Ephraim said. “They’ve had the vision in terms of the CARICOM Energy Policy and we see geothermal as being an integral part of the vision.”

While Ms. Ephraim accepted that there were limitations, it was stated that progress was being made at the forum.

“Within our region, we have limited expertise,” Ms. Ephraim said, noting that there was agreement from two of the other guests on the program, specifically St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Energy, Hon Ian Patches Liburd; and Jacques Chouraki, President of Teranov, a French engineering and services company for new and renewable energy. “Guadeloupe is the only operating plant and some of the countries, as in the case of St. Lucia, have started geothermal investigation since the 1950s. I think now we have a much better appreciation over the past few days. You can see that persons, even at the highest level have a good feeling of what considerations we want to take on board.”

Suggestions were provided as to how the region could move forward by using the creativity that is natural in Caribbean residents.

“But we need to build our capacity and we also need to look on the regional level at innovative solutions especially for financing,” Ephraim said, clarifying that such was the direction of the discussions taking place at the forum. “How can we as a region with limited expertise, with limited financing, with small demand even, how can we realistically develop geothermal energy so that like you said, it can redound to the benefit of the countries and support our sustainable development goals? So this is what the OECS, together with our partners, are working on to come up with solutions.”

Ephraim made public that at the May 11 afternoon session there had been four working groups at the forum that had been charged with coming up with the priorities of the Caribbean countries that need to be addressed and stressed in order to fit them into a regional geothermal energy program.

DOE Release: DOE-Funded Project is First Permanent Facility to Co-produce Electricity from Geothermal Resources at an Oil and Gas Well

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is excited to announce the launch of the nation’s first commercial enterprise to co-produce electricity from geothermal resources at an oil and gas well. With support from DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO), researchers at the University of North Dakota (UND) successfully generated geothermal power from hot water that flows naturally from petroleum wells in the Williston Sedimentary Basin in western North Dakota. This technology offsets the need for costly transmission construction and reduces energy costs at remote oil fields. The facility started generating electricity for the first time in late April.

UND’s process to co-produce electricity involves the use of hot fluid-a by-product of oil, gas, and other material harvesting processes. While the quality of the resource depends on water volume and temperature, the technology has the potential to extend the economic life of oil and gas fields. UND’s technology features a special engine that can make steam from warm water pumped out of the ground with oil. The heat in the water flashes into steam and drives a turbine to create electricity.

Low-temperature geothermal resources between 150 degrees F and 300 degrees F are widely available, having historically been used in direct-use applications, such as heating. Through new technology, power generation and electricity unit installations continue to increase in the United States due to their considerable potential for production of emission-free, renewable electricity. In fact, the coproduction of lower temperature geothermal electricity from oil wells holds the potential to produce more than 30 gigawatt hours of electricity nationwide. GTO continues to work with industry, academia, and national laboratories to develop and deploy new low-temperature and coproduction technologies that will help the geothermal community achieve this potential.

Press Release: Dewhurst Group Selected as Lead Geothermal Project Manager for KfW Fund

The German Government’s Development Bank, KfW, has announced the launch of the first multi-donor climate initiative to promote geothermal energy in Latin America. The initiative is known as the Geothermal Development Facility, Latin America (Fund). This activity includes both straight grants for exploration surface studies as well as contingency grants for exploration drilling. Initially €50M will be provided with follow-on funding anticipated.

The Fund will be modeled after the existing risk mitigation fund in East Africa. Qualified developers in Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala can apply for funding. The Fund will also include technical assistance forums for the various stakeholders. IDA Fund Management, LLC will serve as the Fund managers with oversight from KfW. IDA Fund Management, LLC includes Interlink Capital, Inc., Dewhurst Group, LLC, and Ambata Capital Partners.

The Fund expects to be up and fully operational within the next six months.For further information, please contact us at


Request for Proposals: Development of a Risk Mitigation Mechanism for Geothermal Development in East Africa

Updated on the Community Notice Board is a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the design of a risk mitigation mechanism for geothermal development in East Africa.

Proposals should be submitted by email in PDF form to Mr. Scena Nayak at Proposals should be in PDF format and not exceed 4 separate PDF files


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