Geothermal Industry Ends 2012 on a High Note
Year-end highlights include new domestic projects, international development
and policy benchmarks
WASHINGTON -- December 18, 2012
The past 12 months saw continued economic challenges for many American
industries, including those in the renewable energy field, but the country’s
geothermal community witnessed a year of growth, both domestically and abroad.
The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) today expressed optimism for 2013,
while looking back on a difficult, yet ultimately successful 2012.
U.S. Geothermal Projects
In 2012, seven new geothermal projects and additions came online in three
different states, totaling 147.05 MW of gross capacity. This represents the
second highest increase in geothermal power capacity over a calendar year
since the production tax credit (PTC) was extended to geothermal in 2005, and
a 5% percent increase over 2011 year-end data. The capacity added in 2012
would meet the residential needs of a city the size of Vancouver, Washington
or Kansas City, Kansas. Projects and new additions that came online in 2012
*John L. Featherstone Plant (CA): Energy Source, 49.9 MW
*McGinness Hills (NV): Ormat, 30 MW
*Neal Hot Springs (OR): U.S. Geothermal, 30.1 MW
*San Emidio I (NV): U.S. Geothermal, 12.75 MW
*Tuscarora (NV): Ormat, 18 MW
*Dixie Valley I (NV): Terra-Gen, 6.2 MW
*Florida Canyon Mine (NV): ElectraTherm, 0.1 MW
In addition to these seven projects, GEA identified 13 geothermal companies
with projects in stage 3 or 4 of development. Some of these projects are
expected to come online in 2013.
Some additional highlights of geothermal industry development in 2012 were:
*The first hybrid solar-geothermal project was commissioned by Enel Green
Power at its Stillwater Geothermal Power Plant.
*The first co-production of geothermal power at a gold mine was
commissioned by ElectraTherm at the Florida Canyon Mine in Nevada.
*The first in a decade high-temperature flash steam geothermal power plant
was brought on-line in Southern California by Energy Source, the 49.9MW
John L. Featherstone Geothermal Power Plant.
*The first utility-scale geothermal power plant in Oregon was brought
on-line at Neal Hot Springs by U.S. Geothermal.
The international geothermal market continues to expand at a significant rate,
and 2012 saw a number of global breakthroughs.
U.S. companies and agencies continued to maintain a strong presence in
international markets including Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Kenya,
Rwanda, Nicaragua, Turkey, Mexico, Chile and Germany, where leaders have begun
to understand and embrace geothermal’s economic and environmental benefits.
Africa is a continent with enormous untapped geothermal potential, and the
U.S. government showed its commitment to helping achieve this potential. In
June, GEA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a
memorandum of understanding agreement to assist East African countries expand
their geothermal markets, while also creating opportunities for U.S. companies
to initiate new business in the region. Countries like Kenya, which set a goal
of bringing 5,000MW of geothermal power online by 2030, stand to benefit
greatly from this agreement and the establishment of the USAID-GEA U.S.-East
Africa Geothermal Partnership (EAGP) program.
A number of U.S. geothermal companies were active around the globe in 2012,
*Ram Power, whose San Jacinto-Tizate geothermal plant in Nicaragua began
commercial operation in January. The second phase of construction, to be
completed late this year, will bring the plant’s capacity from 38.5 MW to
77 MW. When the project is completed it will represent a 10% addition to
Nicaragua’s current power generation portfolio and provide a major
economic boost to the country.
*Geothermal Development Associates, which designed and supplied major
equipment for the Eburru Wellhead Geothermal Power Plant in Kenya. The
plant was commissioned and began generating power up to 2.52 MW in
*Ormat, which won a Kenyan government tender to build a power station at
the Menengai geothermal field near Nairobi, and secured a $310 million
loan from the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation for its Olkaria
III geothermal plant in Naivasha, Kenya.
*Geo-Global Energy in Chile completed the most productive geothermal well
ever drilled in South America.
*POWER Engineers signed a contract for full engineering and procurement
services for the new Las Azufres plant in Mexico and was involved in new
plant engineering in Turkey and Nicaragua.
One of the most vital aspects of the geothermal industry’s growth is
technological advancement, and there were many of note in 2012.
*Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) technology - the process of extracting
heat from engineered reservoirs through fluid injection and rock
stimulation - represents the opportunity to tap into staggering geothermal
potential. At the world’s largest series of geothermal plants, The Geysers
in California, the U.S. Department of Energy invested $6 million in EGS
technology, which resulted in a 5MW equivalent of geothermal steam at this
Calpine-operated project, that is now on its way to commercial production.
The Geothermal Technologies Program is focused on lowering risk and cost
in hydrothermal resource exploration and development, and on establishing
the technical and commercial viability of EGS through a combination of R&D
and demonstration projects.
*The Department of Energy was also active at the Salton Sea geothermal
plant operated by Simbol Materials. At this demonstration facility, Simbol
is working to produce lithium, manganese and zinc from geothermal brines
during the geothermal power process. The company plans to continue this
work, which it believes has the potential to produce enough lithium for
300,000-600,000 electric vehicle batteries per year, and to turn the
United States into a major lithium producer.
The presidential campaign of 2012 highlighted energy as an issue of the utmost
importance to the public, and President Barack Obama’s support for renewables
contributed significantly to his re-election. An increasing number of
Americans are throwing their support behind geothermal and other renewable
sources, and this public backing was evident in an election that featured
Obama’s plans for a clean energy future.
California implemented the nation’s largest cap-and-trade program to date to
limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, following the goals of state mandate AB
32, the overall effort to lower emissions by 30% by the year 2020. While a
program that started in 2009 in the mid-Eastern states limits emissions from
electric utilities, the Golden State’s new program goes beyond to include
large industrial facilities in 2013 and will add distributors of
transportation, natural gas and other fuels in 2015. The geothermal industry
in California supported the program, offering geothermal as a roadmap to meet
the goals of the program and its mandate, as geothermal plants emit extremely
low levels of GHGs – and zero emissions in some cases – and represent a firm
yet flexible alternative to high-emission energy sources such as coal and
Congress took action on a bi-partisan basis to help geothermal in 2012. Top on
the list of several significant measures that saw favorable Committee action
was the Senate Finance Committee's "Family and Business Tax Certainty Act." It
would allow projects to lock in the federal tax credits once they were "under
construction," instead of current law's approach which requires them to be
producing power by a specific date, and that date right now is January 1,
2014. The Senate Finance Committee approved the change on a strong bi-partisan
vote, and it is actively under discussion in the lame duck session's "fiscal
cliff" negotiations. If it is adopted, it could spur strong growth in
geothermal power for several years.
Geothermal Community Events
Over the course of 2012, GEA held a series of annual events that brought
together industry and policy leaders from around the world. These events are
not only educational in nature, but they serve as the front line for doing
business. The events included the GEA Geothermal Energy Finance and
Development Forum in San Francisco, the GEA International Geothermal Energy
Showcase in Washington, D.C., the National Geothermal Summit in Sacramento,
and the GEA Geothermal Energy Expo in Reno. Attendance at these events was at
a high in 2012, and more countries were represented than ever before. GEA
events in 2012 brought in participants from 40 states and 32 countries proving
the geothermal industry is truly a global market.
In 2013, GEA sponsors the following events:
*February 26, 2013: State of the Geothermal Energy Industry Briefing,
*April 11, 2013: International Geothermal Energy Finance Forum, New York,
*June 26-27, 2013: National Geothermal Summit, Reno, NV
*August 15, 2013: GEA Honors Press Event
*September 29-October 2, 2013: GEA Geothermal Energy Expo and GRC Annual
Meeting, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
Click here for more information on 2013 geothermal events.
The geothermal industry is poised to build on its 2012 successes in the coming
year. Across the globe more and more countries are unearthing their geothermal
potential, and in the United States hopes are high that the PTC will be
extended, further bolstering the industry. An extension of the PTC would be a
boon for geothermal, and an uptick in construction would likely ensue.
As the U.S. and nations around the world look to replace fossil fuels to
minimize the threat of global warming, geothermal power will grow in its value
and importance in the years ahead. Geothermal can provide both firm and
flexible power. It can bring the reliability of 24/7 baseload power or
complement other energy technologies by firming up more intermittent power
generation. It can also provide power for small co-production projects to
large utility scale power plants.
About the Geothermal Energy Association:
The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is a trade association comprised of
U.S. companies who support the expanded use of geothermal energy and are
developing geothermal Resources worldwide for electrical power generation and
direct-heat uses.GEA advocates for public policies that will promote the
development and utilization of geothermal Resources, provides a forum for the
industry to discuss issues and problems, encourages research and development
to improve geothermal technologies, presents industry views to governmental
organizations, provides assistance for the export of geothermal goods and
services, compiles statistical data about the geothermal industry, and
conducts education and outreach projects. For more information, please visit
http://www.geo-energy.org/. Check out GEA’s YouTube Channel. Follow GEA on
Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook.
Geothermal Energy Association (GEA)
Shawna Seldon, 917-971-7852
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