Friday, April 1, 2016

USA: New Technology Helps Geothermal Energy Progress

New Plant Design Options Expand Geothermal Power Operations (POWER magazine)

Sunset at Ala┼čehir 1, by Tim Dunford, POWER Engineers, Inc., Hailey, Idaho, USA.
Steam venting at dusk at Zorlu Energy's Ala┼čehir geothermal power plant in Turkey. Taken July 16, 2015.
Geothermal energy may not be a large contributor to the U.S. power mix—it provided less than 0.5% of total U.S. generation in 2015—but it is a reliable and dispatchable renewable energy source that plays well with others. And while the concept is old, new technology is making it easier for grid operators to utilize this important resource.

Geothermal technology, though over a century old, is constantly changing. Developments in mapping techniques have improved exploratory practices. Plant adaptations, such as hybrid technologies and the introduction of fully flexible mode, have enhanced operations. And cutting-edge research continues around the globe, with goals of improving plant efficiency and performance. With geothermal technology—arguably more so than with other generating technologies—plant design determines one’s operating options, so we begin with some of the latest plant design innovations.