Geothermal Power Projects Under Development in Nevada and Idaho
May 12, 2004
Crucial steps are now underway in the development of two new geothermal projects in Nevada and Idaho.
Nevada Geothermal Power, Inc. completed the second deep geothermal test well at its Blue Mountain geothermal project in northern Nevada in late April. Although the first well found geothermal fluids at a temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit—sufficient for power production—the company announced on May 6th that it has found a maximum temperature of 330 degrees Fahrenheit during preliminary tests at the second well, which was primarily funded by DOE. The company believes that the geothermal resource at the site extends over a two-square-mile area, which bodes well for power production. The company plans to develop a 30-megawatt geothermal power plant at the site, and believes the site could eventually support 100 megawatts of geothermal power production. See the Nevada Geothermal Power press release (PDF 114 KB) and the Blue Mountain project description. Download Acrobat Reader.
In Idaho, U.S. Geothermal Inc. is preparing to begin flow tests on its five production wells at its Raft River Geothermal Project. The site is the former location of a DOE demonstration plant for binary-cycle power technology and includes four production wells that were drilled in the late 1970s. The company has also leased a fifth production well on an adjacent property. After about a month and a half needed to open the wells and clear them of debris, the flow tests should last one to two more months. Funded largely by DOE, the flow tests will help determine the potential energy production from the geothermal wells, which will allow the company to design the power plant for the project. The company is currently negotiating a contract with Idaho Power Company to supply 10 megawatts of geothermal power for 20 years, and is working with the Bonneville Power Administration on the plant's connection to the power grid. Located in central Idaho about 10 miles north of the Utah border, the project could be the first commercial geothermal power plant in Idaho. See the company's press releases from February 17th (PDF 78 KB) and April 21st (PDF 78 KB).
U.S. Geothermal plans to build a binary-cycle power plant at Raft River, employing the same technology that was first demonstrated there by DOE over 20 years ago. Binary-cycle power plants use the hot geothermal fluid to vaporize a secondary fluid, which is then routed through a turbine to produce power. The secondary fluid is then cooled and reused, and the cooler geothermal fluid is injected back into the underground reservoir, allowing virtually no emissions from the power plant. See the technology description from the DOE Geothermal Energy Program and the project description from U.S. Geothermal.