Thursday, February 9, 2017

USA: Geothermal Build Lags Behind That Of Other Renewables Due To Lack Of Policy Support - Report

Sustainable Energy in America Factbook (Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

The 2017 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook – produced for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, provides up-to-date, accurate market information about the broad range of industries — energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy— that are contributing to the country’s move towards cleaner energy production and more efficient energy usage.

US geothermal build (MW)

The section on geothermal energy has the following observations:
  • New US geothermal build lags behind that of other renewables due to long project completion periods (4-7 years), high costs of development, and lack of policy support. All this has contributed to a dearth of geothermal development, with no new projects commissioned in 2016. Further, only one project, Cyrq Energy’s Soda Lake 3, moved forward with development after awarding an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to Ormat.
  • However, 2016 also brought new hope for the sector – the Bureau of Land Management auctioned off new geothermal land leases in Nevada, Utah and Oregon. In Nevada, 14 of 22 leases cleared – with Ormat snapping up the majority. In addition, a new lease was granted to develop capacity in California’s Salton Sea. These new leases for development could replenish the pipeline for geothermal projects in the US.
  • The majority of activity has been from experiment with hybridization – the use of another technology alongside geothermal to enhance the overall performance of the plant. Two such facilities are operated by Enel Green Power North America, Inc. (EGP-NA). The first is at its triple-hybrid Stillwater plant in Nevada, where the company in 2015 commissioned a new solar thermal component that had been added to its existing photovoltaic and geothermal hybrid. The second project took place at EGP-NA's existing Cove Fort geothermal power plant in Utah, where the company in 2016 commissioned a hydroelectric generator newly added to an injection well.
  • With the lack of additional projects moving forward, 2016 was the second year in a row without new asset financing for US geothermal projects.
  • One project, Ormat’s Don A Campbell Phase II in Nevada, was refinanced in 2016. Ormat raised USD 44m in equity as Northleaf Capital Partners bought a 36.75% stake, and another USD 55m in debt from bond issuance.
  • The US Department of Energy also awarded $29m for research into enhanced geothermal systems, which would use hydraulic fracturing to stimulate geothermal resources in areas which have less water, heat or permeability. Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Utah will undertake this research.
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