Creating the Culture for a Renewable Energy Future

Posted on January 10th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Renewable energy has already won the battle against fossil fuels, despite the big subsidies for oil and gas. Renewable energy is cost-efficient when it’s compared to the cost of pollution. Also, renewable energy has been proven to be cost-effective when projects take advantage of partnerships and cooperative financing.

It is just a matter of time before the victory in this battle is shared with the majority of the world.

However, how soon this happens depends on how quickly the existing oil and gas energy generation culture changes. Culture has been defined as the learned and shared behavior of a community of interacting human beings. If culture is about learned and shared behavior, can we learn and share our way to a renewable energy future?

The oil and gas energy generation change is contingent on how governments consider culture when they implement effective renewable energy incentives and subsidies. The change also depends on how willing businesses are to evaluate and adapt their culture of renewable energy consumption.

The private sector, financing institutions and multilateral development agencies need to facilitate a culture shift in funding, developing and evaluating renewable energy projects. We must evaluate 11the culture in which we live and work and how the benefits of renewable energy influence that culture. Each of us must understand our history if we are going to change our reality in our lifetime and shape the future.

Overcoming Intimidation Created by Renewable Energy

The transition to renewable energy might seem intimidating – regardless of whether it is 20% by 2020 or 100% by 2060 – because it will require a culture shift. This may be why worldwide energy goals are like moving targets. They must adapt as the shift occurs, whether at the national level or within local companies.

One aspect of this intimidation might come from the notion that we’ve lived with fossil fuel energy so long that change is impossible. However, “so long” really is not that long in the context of human history.

It is only since the Industrial Revolution that fossil fuels have dominated our culture. Even then, we had hemp as biomass and oil, hydropower as dams, wind power as windmills and solar power as solar cooking. Before the Industrial Revolution facilitated migration from rural workplaces to urban manufacturing areas, we depended on decentralized ways of living and making a living.

Decentralization and the use of renewable energy is nothing new. Certainly, the amount of energy we consume can be correlated with the electrification of technology. But this does not necessarily mean our energy consumption needs to increase continuously.

With electrification, we increase our energy footprint in two ways: with the energy requirement to use products and the energy requirement of creating products. As we create more products, we still have to deal with the energy footprint of electronic waste. It makes sense that manufacturers are developing “smart” technology to optimize all aspects of product energy consumption.

Most of our ideas around energy consumption are not necessarily based on what we need to consume. Instead, they are based on what we want to consume for comfort, security, tradition – to reflect human progress, to satisfy ideas of development, to define wealth, to distinguish class and assert cultural identity.

Benefits from the Development of a Sharing Economy

Culturally, the truth is most of us in the Western Hemisphere are accustomed to the conveniences of having our own car, our own home, our own everything. However, these customs have changed and will continue to change. Innovative companies such as Uber are proof of those changes. We are also seeing examples from the development of a sharing economy.

However, Uber didn’t just grow exponentially because the company saw the benefits of sharing costs with drivers. Uber saw the benefits of creating a sharing economy.

So how can a sharing economy benefit from renewable energy? If we share both our energy consumption and our profits, we justify a shared investment in a renewable energy future. This investment can create the necessary capital for renewable energy projects.

How Do We Scale Out and Cooperate for a Renewable Energy Future?

For now, the only way to see an immediate return on investment from solar installation and a lower electricity bill is if the cost for energy consumption exceeds the cost of installation. Individually, this is a rare occurrence. More often, our energy consumption cost means that a solar installation is equal to electricity payment five to 30 years in advance.

But many of us wonder how we will pay our bills the next three months. Five years is simply too far forward to stretch our money.

There is a way to cooperatively create energy consumption clusters, which together can receive a return on investment sooner than in five years. That way, we not only share the installation costs, but also the financing and soft project costs.

This approach could further increase confidence in renewable energy investment, while helping individuals to understand their energy consumption. In turn, more of us would be willing to install energy-efficient products and give utilities the consumer energy demand information they need. That could lead to utilities adjusting fossil fuel costs for consumers who install solar panels that feed into centralized grids.

This consumer information is important because our existing electricity utilities and the culture of energy generation will not simply go away. The utility’s ultimate goal is to provide reliable and affordable electricity to everyone and that requires revenue and validated consumer demand data.

Reliability means meeting energy demands while avoiding power outages. But if we demand less energy, utilities earn less revenue. At the same time, a centralized grid structure, even if transitioning to renewable energy, still needs revenue to operate.

So where should this revenue come from? There are a range of policies and revenue-generating options. They include:

  • Renewable energy permits or licenses for energy generators and consumers
  • Rebates to customers who invest in energy storage, perhaps in the form of electric vehicles
  • Increases in the rates utilities pay customers who sell renewable energy back to the grid
  • Correlation of renewable energy rates with the cost of fossil fuel
  • Taxes on existing fossil fuel generation or products made primarily from fossil fuels such as Styrofoam
  • Private sector investment
  • Air pollution fines

The mix of policy options chosen must avoid the risk of having too many people come off the grid. When that happens, the cost of electricity will increase for those who either cannot afford an off-grid system or who are not part of a cooperative renewable energy project.


The transition to renewable energy will cost us on multiple levels beyond the technological cost. There is also the cost of transitioning systems that depend on fossil fuels, including companies, business clusters, communities, transportation and water infrastructure.


All of Las Vegas’s City-Owned Buildings Now Run on Renewable Energy

Posted on January 10th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Las Vegas is best known for its blinding neon signs and indulgent venues, but more recently the city government has set its sights on keeping the lights on in a more sustainable way.

Las Vegas’s city-owned buildings and other public infrastructure are now entirely powered by renewable energy as of December, including about 48,000 streetlamps, lights inside City Hall and power at city parks, Las Vegas spokesman Jace Radke said.

“The move to renewable energy has been seamless,” Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman said in a statement. “The city of Las Vegas has long been a leader in sustainability, and becoming the first large city in the country to rely on 100 percent renewable energy [for city-owned buildings] is an incredible accomplishment that sets a great example for our residents and businesses.”

Of course, the restaurants, casinos and homes in Las Vegas still mostly get their power from plants that run on traditional fossil fuels. Nevada as a whole relies heavily on gas and coal for its power generation—63.9 percent of its energy comes from petroleum, and 18.2 percent comes from coal. About 18 percent of the state’s energy comes from renewable sources like geothermal, solar and hydroelectric energy, according to Colorado State University/The Nature Conservancy’s energy tracking tool.

More cities are expected to jump on the renewable energy bandwagon, either entirely or to power their municipal-owned buildings, as a way to meet climate targets and to save money. Cities across the country, including Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco, are studying how to move their residents, businesses and city buildings toward renewable energy, Sierra Club spokesman Shane Levy told Motherboard. St. Petersburg, Florida, was one of the most recent cities to jump into that initiative, becoming the first city in Florida to make a commitment to renewable energy.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory spokesman Eric O'Shaughnessy told Motherboard about 10 percent of cities in the US have an established renewable energy goal, and most cities that reach 100 percent renewable energy start the process by converting their city-owned operations to green power. He said the 10 percent figure is from a 2016 survey by the International City/County Management Association.

“There is a general consensus that cities are increasingly interested in renewable energy for both environmental and economic reasons, especially if you are working on the timeframe of several decades,” he said.

“Environmentally, going 100% renewable is a big step toward achieving sustainability goals. Economically, some cities have been able to actually save money by entering into long-term contracts for renewable energy that beat the rates they were previously paying for electricity.”

Las Vegas had been moving toward the goal by working with energy company NVEnergy, and when a large solar project was completed near Boulder City, the city was able to buy the rest of the energy it needed to run all city-owned buildings on renewable energy, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The switch to renewable energy cost the Las Vegas city government about $47 million, and it is expected save $5 million a year in energy bills due to the switch, Radke said.

“So it is a nine- to 10-year pay-back, which is really good,” he said.


The world’s first solar panel-paved road has opened in France

Posted on January 9th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



At this rate, just about every man-made surface there is could be covered in solar panels in the future.

Yesterday, Tourouvre-au-Perche, a small town in northern France, opened what is likely the first road paved in solar panels in the world, the Guardian reported. The road is roughly 1 km (0.6 miles) long, with one lane covered entirely in a patchwork of small solar cells that look rather like bathroom tiles, or a very dirty version of the road in the Wizard of Oz.

The panels are coated in a special silicon film that helps protect them from the weight of trucks. The road will likely see around 2,000 vehicles a day, passing through the town of roughly 3,400 residents.

The road was opened by France’s environment minister and former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, who said that she would like to see the solar panel-paving installed on thousands of kilometers of French roadways. As the Guardian points out, this part of France, Normandy, isn’t exactly known for its sunny weather, receiving around 44 days of good sunshine a year on average. Royal and the French company behind the road, Wattway, are hoping to see over the next two years whether the road can generate enough electricity to power the town.

It’s the not the first paved solar-panel project in the world—that honor went to Dutch company SolaRoad in 2014 with its solar-powered bike path—but it’s possible that this road will suffer the same issues. SolaRoad’s bike path can generate roughly 3,000 kilowatt-hours of power, but the estimated cost of building it was equivalent to paying for 520,000 kilowatt-hours’ worth of power.

France’s project was not cheap: The short stretch of roadway cost about €5 million ($5.2 million) to build. It may not prove to be the most cost-effective use of capital either. Solar panels are more efficient when they are tilted at an angle toward the Sun, rather than flat to the ground, and the road’s construction cost may well be greater than the amount of energy it can produce. “We have to look at the cost, the production [of electricity] and its lifespan,” Jean-Louis Bal, the president of the French renewable energy union SER, told the Guardian. “For now I don’t have the answers.”

Wattway aims to lower the cost of installing paneled roads as it builds more of them, and although the cost-effectiveness is in question now, it’s a novel use of otherwise wasted space. Many buildings around the world are covering their roofs with solar panels, in an effort to cut down on energy costs: Apple’s new campus is awash in solar paneling, and is aiming to be a nearly self-sufficient building, and Elon Musk’s Tesla plans to bring shingle-shaped solar panels to homes around the world in the near future. Solar panels also grace trash cans, tentsand planes, so perhaps it won’t be that long before they’re ubiquitous enough on our infrastructure to drive costs further down.


Solar panel researchers investigate powering trains by bypassing grid

Posted on January 9th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Imperial College London has partnered with the climate change charity 10:10 to investigate the use of track-side solar panels to power trains, the two organisations announced yesterday.

The renewable traction power project will see university researchers look at connecting solar panels directly to the lines that provide power to trains, a move that would bypass the electricity grid in order to more efficiently manage power demand from trains.

According to the university, the research team will be the first in the world to test the “completely unique” idea, which it said would have a “wide impact with commercial applications on electrified rail networks all over the world”.

“It would also open up thousands of new sites to small- and medium-scale renewable developments by removing the need to connect to the grid,” Imperial College London said in a statement.

Network Rail is currently investing billions in electrifying the UK’s railways in a bid to reduce the number of trains running on diesel fuel, curbing costs, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

Combining this effort with increased renewable energy generation in the UK could significantly decarbonise train lines by 2050, according to 10:10, but in many rural areas the electricity grid has reached its limit for both integrating distributed energy generation and supplying power to train firms.

“What is particularly galling is that peak generation from solar and peak demand from the trains more or less match but we can’t connect the two,” explained 10:10’s Leo Murray, who is leading the project. “I actually believe this represents a real opportunity for some innovative thinking.”

Initially the project will look at the feasibility of converting “third rail systems” which supply electricity through a power line running close to the ground and are used on roughly one third of the UK’s tracks.

“Many railway lines run through areas with great potential for solar power but where existing electricity networks are hard to access,” explained Prof Tim Green, director of Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London.

The university will collaborate on the technical aspects of the project with Turbo Power Systems – a firm that works on distribution and management of power in the railway sector – while 10:10 is leading on research looking at the size of the long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) market for directly connecting renewables to transport systems.

“I don’t think you get a better fit for PPA than a train line,” added Murray. “A rural train line even more so, the project would open up many investment opportunities across the country and further afield.”

The news comes as it emerged that every one of the Dutch state-owned railway company NS’s passenger trains are now being powered entirely by wind energy.

As of 1 January 2017 all trips taken by the estimated 600,000 people who ride NS trains everyday are being powered by wind energy.

Having teamed up with the energy firm Eneco in 2015 with the aim of reducing its emissions, NS has now reached its target of switching the sources of power for its trains to 100% renewables one year ahead of schedule, with the firm originally setting a target date of 2018 for the milestone.


Native American Solar Energy Visionary Equips Standing Rock Protesters With Green Technology

Posted on January 9th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Henry Red Cloud knelt down on the snow-packed ground at the Standing Rock Reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

He didn’t seem to mind the frigid cold as he used his bare hands to secure an outlet to a solar air heater, one of 11 he installed one December day at the Oceti Sakowin Camp to help protesters there stay warm as temperatures dipped below zero.

“They’re outside all day,” Red Cloud, 57, later told ABC News in an interview. “And we still have 120 days of winter left here in the Northern Plains.”

Thousands of Native Americans, environmental activists and their allies have camped out near the Standing Rock Reservation for months in protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in July sued to block the four-state crude oil pipeline project, claiming it was never meaningfully consulted before construction began.

The protesters, who call themselves “water protectors,” argue that the nearly completed pipeline will threaten the reservation’s water supply and traverse culturally sacred sites. They also cite an 1851 treaty that they say specifies that the land in question was designated for Native American tribes.

Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based firm that’s building the pipeline, has said that “concerns about the pipeline’s impact on local water supply are unfounded” and “multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route.”

The push to block the 1,170-mile pipeline has ignited tension between the “water protectors” and local authorities, and it has become one of the largest Native American demonstrations in decades. Many of the protesters left the camp after the Army Corps of Engineers, which reports to the Department of Defense, announced Dec. 4 that it will not approve an easement needed to permit the controversial pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe.

Although a major victory for the protesters, the decision may not have permanently defeated work on the controversial pipeline as the Obama administration enters its final days in the White House. President-elect Donald Trump has said he supports finishing the Dakota Access Pipeline, which crosses North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

Many protesters have left since the Army’s announcement, but hundreds still remain and have erected teepees, tents and other kinds of shelters to keep warm this winter atop the frozen, snow-covered ground.

ABC News, on Dec. 21, photographed Red Cloud’s fifth return visit to the camp where he continued installing various systems providing heat, light and electricity from renewable energy sources, including solar and wind. The founder and owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises, a Native American-owned and operated renewable energy firm in South Dakota, also trained hundreds of protesters on how to install the systems themselves so they can live sustainably and embrace green technology.

“We need to utilize the sun and start coexisting with the earth and the sun and the wind,” he said. “We can do it. Our ancestors did it.”

Red Cloud, a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, said he took an interest in renewable energy in hopes of helping Native American communities like his own that are suffering from high unemployment, poverty and the effects of climate change.

About 97 percent of the population on the Pine Ridge Reservation live below the poverty line, and about 90 percent are unemployed. Thousands of homes there lack electricity, adequate heating, clean water and sewage systems, according to data from the American Indian Humanitarian Foundation.

Red Cloud’s energy firm employs tribal members to manufacture and install solar air heating systems for Native American families across the Great Plains. He also co-manages the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, which provides hands-on green job training in renewable energy technology and sustainable building practices to tribes throughout the United States.

“It’s creating an economic opportunity for individuals here,” Red Cloud told ABC News. “And we’re bringing awareness and helping tribes reach energy independence, because we have the resources. We have tremendous sun and a lot of wind.”

In 2014, Red Cloud was one of 10 people honored by Obama as “Champions of Change” for driving policy changes at the local level to expand energy choices for Americans, grow jobs and add new clean energy to the grid.

“I found myself in D.C. at the White House having lunch there with the president,” Red Cloud laughed.

On the vast Pine Ridge Reservation, which spans over 2 million acres, Red Cloud and his partners are also building sustainable homes using natural materials, planting thousands of trees to combat deforestation and are cultivating organic farms with alternative energy sources.

Now, the father of 17 and direct descendant of Lakota war chief Red Cloud is bringing these green concepts to the Standing Rock Reservation to empower the tribes fighting the pipeline.

“We’re going to make history together and start to move ourselves away from fossil fuels. It can’t happen overnight,” he told ABC News. “We need to move forward together.”


First commercial geothermal-hydro hybrid plant starts operations

Posted on January 5th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Italian power firm Enel S.p.A., announces that  through its subsidiary Enel Green Power North America, Inc. (“EGPNA”), it has started operations at the world’s first integrated, commercial-scale geothermal-hydro power plant at its Cove Fort site in Utah. At Cove Fort, EGPNA added a fully submersible downhole generator technology to a geothermal injection well, combining geothermal and hydroelectric power at one site.

“The operation of this technology, a world’s first, is a major milestone for the geothermal industry and a reinforcement of our commitment to innovation and energy efficiency,” said Francesco Venturini, Head of Enel’s Global Renewable Energies. “We are creating innovative solutions that are making renewable energy better, stronger and smarter. As a result we have once again discovered a more resourceful way to maximise plant operations and power generation with the aim of using this technology at our facilities around the world.”

Findings from the initial testing phase held between July and September 2016 reveal that the addition of the hydro generator to the geothermal injection well resulted in an overall increase in output of 1,008 MWh over this time, offsetting the energy consumption of the Cove Fort plant by 8.8%, therefore improving the plant’s operational efficiency.

The innovative generator technology captures the energy of the water flowing back into the earth to generate additional electricity while also better controlling the flow of brine back into the ground. The presence of the generator creates pressure against the brine flow, which reduces the flow’s turbulence into the well, hence minimising the likelihood of any potential damage to the well. The result is a first-of-its-kind innovation that can reduce operational and maintenance expenses, while also having the potential to generate additional revenues.

Cove Fort is EGPNA’s second hybrid power plant to begin operations in the United States. The company also operates the award-winning Stillwater facility in Fallon, Nevada, the world’s first power plant to combine medium enthalpy, binary cycle geothermal, solar thermal and solar PV technologies at the same site.

With an installed capacity of 25 MW, Cove Fort began operations in 2013 and generates up to 160 GWh of power each year, powering more than 13,000 US households while avoiding the annual emission of about 115,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

EGPNA is present in 23 US states and two Canadian provinces with more than 2.5 GW of installed capacity spread across four different renewable energy technologies: wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower.


In Utah, an old geothermal plant gets a new life with hydroelectric additions

Posted on January 5th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Renewable energy can be a tricky business. If you’re not dealing with the intermittency of solar or wind power, you might struggle with some of geothermal’s more complex issues. For example, older geothermal plants rely on steam output that can diminish over time or harm the plant’s turbine components. Or, a geothermal plant can damage the subterranean aquifer that it’s taking hot water (called brine) from. Or, if the geothermal plant is air-cooled, a particularly hot day can reduce the plant’s efficiency.

To combat all of these issues, Italian renewable energy company Enel Green Power has been working to make its geothermal resources in Fallon, Nevada, and Cove Fort, Utah, more efficient by combining them with other renewable power sources. In its most recent endeavor in Cove Fort, Enel cleverly combines hydroelectric power with geothermal power to provide more electricity for the plant's operation.

 Usually, geothermal plants pump mineral-rich brine up from areas of hot rock beneath the surface of the Earth, convert that heat to energy, and then re-inject that water back into the ground to heat back up again. The re-injection process is usually as simple as it sounds—just put the water back in the ground where you found it once it cools. Instead, Enel is harnessing power from all that falling water. Brian Stankiewicz, Enel’s Senior Operations Manager for geothermal and solar operations, told Ars that the company realized it “had an exponential amount of hydraulic energy that could be harnessed” shortly after it bought the defunct plant in 2007.

Enel called on the expertise of oilfield service provider Baker Hughes to help it install a downhole generator in the injection well, opposite the production well where the water is pumped up. The generator is placed at the bottom of the well receiving the recycled geothermal water, connected to a turbine above it that spins as the re-injected water is pulled down by gravity. The generator changes that mechanical energy into electrical energy, producing an additional 1,008 megawatt hours for the plant. Enel says the hydroelectric addition has improved Cove Fort's efficiency by 8.8 percent.

Perhaps that seems like a small amount for a geothermal plant that generates 160,000MWh annually, but the hydroelectric component also helps protect Cove Fort’s aquifer. On many geothermal projects, the amount of brine that can be re-injected is limited to prevent damaging underground rock formations, Stankiewicz told Ars, adding, “if the flows get too large for the well, it can create a lot of turbulence.” Enel’s downhole generator at Cove Fort controls the injection of the brine back into the aquifer and limits those damaging “turbulent vortexes,” as geothermal engineers call them.

The hydroelectric component is an interesting addition to what was, as recently as 2007, an old, non-operational geothermal plant. Construction began on Cove Fort in southwestern Utah in 1984, and it was a fully operational steam turbine geothermal plant between 1990 and 2003. But steam turbines at geothermal plants don’t always have the longest life—minerals in the brine can wear out turbine components faster than a steam engine using regular water. Stankiewicz also attributed the original plant’s degradation to aspects of the reinjection process. “A conventional flash style plant doesn’t allow you to reinject 100 percent” of the brine, he said. “There’s a lot of evaporation.”

So when Enel bought Cove Fort in 2007, it converted the plant to a more efficient Rankine binary cycle plant—instead of using straight steam to power turbines, Enel pumps the hot water up to a heat-exchange site where a secondary fluid with a lower boiling point than water (in this case pentane) is heated by the water and evaporates, creating hot vapor that can power the plant’s generators.

“Over the last couple of decades, geothermal development has shifted toward the use of liquid dominated resources and away from steam as new power generation technologies make lower temperature resources economical to develop and operate,” Stankiewicz explained in a follow-up e-mail.

Enel reopened Cove Fort in 2013, and since then the 25MW plant has powered approximately 13,000 homes served by the Salt River Project, a utility cooperative in Arizona.

Checking in on some 16ft-tall mirrors

The combination of geothermal and hydroelectric energy at Cove Fort is a first for North American geothermal plants. But it’s the second hybrid plant that Enel has built combining geothermal with other renewable resources. Enel’s Stillwater plant in Fallon, Nevada, is the only triple-hybrid renewable energy plant in the US, according to the Department of Energy (DOE), combining geothermal power with a 26MW array of photovoltaic solar panels, and a concentrated solar power (CSP) system that uses mirrors to add heat from the Sun to already hot geothermal water. In fact, Ars took a tour of Stillwater way back in 2014, when the company was still in the process of installing the 16-foot-long parabolic mirrors that currently concentrate heat on a 5” pipe full of geothermal brine.

The CSP system finally came online in 2015, and in October of this year, the US Department of Energy and Enel announced that they would be working together to conduct some studies on ways to optimize Stillwater’s three energy sources.

Currently the CSP provides some interesting efficiencies to Stillwater. Shortly after opening the geothermal portion of the plant in 2009, Enel realized that the ambient air temperature in the Nevada desert was reducing how quickly its air-cooled geothermal system could shed heat, which harmed how much energy the plant could produce in the middle of the day. While Enel can’t make a hot desert afternoon cooler, it realized it could make the geothermal brine it pumped from the Earth hotter. Its parabolic mirrors can heat the air in front of them to about 600 degrees Fahrenheit, while the brine inside goes from 300 degrees Fahrenheit out of the ground to 390 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to the DOE, this strategy has been working for Enel: “between the months of March and December 2015, the CSP component increased the amount of overall output by 3.6 percent, on average.” That, in combination with the solar PV array, means that Stillwater is a renewable energy plant that’s producing 24/7—during the day when geothermal energy production might drop off, the solar array is producing energy and the CSP system is boosting the weakened geothermal performance. At night when the solar array isn’t producing anything, geothermal is functioning well, and the cool night air means that the CSP system isn’t needed.

What’s does the future hold?

Enel couldn’t say if there are any more projects like this in the works, but Stankiewicz did say that Cove Fort’s Down Hole generator scheme could likely work on other geothermal sites. “The Cove Fort plant presented unique geological conditions that proved to be a good first testing facility for this technology,” he wrote to Ars in an e-mail. “We are actively looking at ways in which this technology can be applied at other sites around the world with the same geological conditions. An analysis needs to be done of individual injection wells to ensure there is enough head pressure and flow to allow the installation of the Down Hole Generator.”

And, despite the incoming Trump administration’s aversion to renewables, the company is publicly optimistic that there will continue to be a market for renewable energy in the US. Besides the geothermal plants, Enel has a handful of solar and wind farms, and it announced a deal in October to construct a 300MW wind farm in Missouri. “Our company is well positioned to continue its growth in the US as evidenced by its more than 1 GW under construction and continued investments in both renewables and the US market,” a company spokesperson said.

Correction: The story originally said that Fort Cove was the first geothermal plant to use hydroelectric power and geothermal power together, but a project from the Northern California Power Agency actually predates Enel's project.


2017 starts with new record for geothermal energy production in Tuscany, Italy

Posted on January 5th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



As reported by Enel Green Power, geothermal energy production in Tuscany, Italy has reached yet another record in the past year of 2016.

With 34 geothermal power plants in operation in the region in 2016, production increased by 51 GWh to 5,871 GWh of produced electricity by geothermal power plants in the region.

This new record was made possible by optimizing technological innovation and excellence of the plants whose plant efficiency was greater than 98% and availability of mine shafts operated by Enel Green Power with a view to a careful geothermal cultivation environment and the balance of the geothermal loop.

In the more than 100 years of geothermal power production in the region, the level production has never been as high and highlights the sustainability of the resources. When managed well through the reinjection of water output and technological innovation, there has been growth in terms of availability and performance by keeping a balance with the environment and proving that geothermal energy is completely renewable.

At Larderello in Tuscany, Enel Green Power operates the oldest geothermal complex in the world and has the know-how of geothermal energy that exports all over the planet.

Of 34 geothermal power plants (for a total of 37 production units) of Enel Green Power, 16 are in the province of Pisa; 9 are in Siena (total of 10 units),  as well as 9 plants in the province of Grosseto (total of 11 units). At the provincial level, the province of Pisa stands at a geothermal production of 2,976 GWh, the highest figure of the three Tuscan provinces.

The territory of Siena has had a production of 1,492 GWh and Grosseto of 1,403 GWh . The nearly 6 billion KWh produced in Tuscany are the average annual consumption of more than two million households and provide useful heat to warm over 10 thousand residential customers as well as companies of geothermal areas , about 30 Ha hectares of greenhouses, dairies and a major agricultural sector, gastronomic and tourism.

In terms of organization, power plants are grouped in so-called “Geothermal Areas” (each of which includes plants from different provinces) of Larderello, Radicondoli, Lake Boracifero and Piancastagnaio / Amiata: the areas of Larderello and Lake showed a production respectively 1,822 and 1,851 GWh, the area of Radicondoli of 1,217 GWh and the plants of Piancastagnaio, Santa Fiora and Ardicosso combined 981 GWh.

“Geothermal has showing record production figures year after year – said Massimo Montemaggi , Head of Geothermal at Enel Green Power – confirming that it is an ancient resource but able to constantly renew itself and contributing to the development of renewable energy in Tuscany and Italy.  Our business, highlights the excellence for the technologies used, the environment and the frontiers of innovation on energy, electricity and heat. The record this year confirms that we are on track, thanks to our know-how and cooperation with regional and local institutions, entrepreneurs and trade associations with the aim of continuing to be an international leader, increase further local development and consolidate the Tuscan geothermal district in Italy and in the world “.