California workshop will look at barriers to geothermal power

Staff at the California Energy Commission (CEC) will evaluate hurdles facing geothermal power plant operation and potential research priorities during a Jan. 28 pre-solicitation workshop in Sacramento.

The workshop is being held to gather input from geothermal power stakeholders in order to identify research priorities that will address current barriers facing geothermal power plant operation. The focus will be on flexibility, cost drivers, and other issues, the CEC said in a recent news release.

The workshop will include a panel discussion followed by comments and questions from the public. A panel of experts from a variety of backgrounds including industry, academia, utilities, and state and local agencies may be invited to participate in a moderated discussion aimed at identifying the most pressing research needs.

With California seeking to move toward 50% renewable generation, it is look for ways to encourage geothermal power. California is looking to fund projects that help geothermal contribute to the state’s energy mix.

There have been several demonstrations of flexible delivery of power by geothermal plants including the Puna Geothermal Venture plant in Hawaii. The plant generates 38 MW, which includes includes16 MW of contracted flexible capacity, allowing it to help provide stability in the event of a grid disturbance.

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) conducted an industry survey in 2014 of geothermal power developers and found that the primary reason most geothermal power plants operate in baseload mode rather than as more flexible sources of electricity was a lack of sufficient economic considerations to ensure an acceptable return on investment, CEC said.

The other reason cited by GEA relates to the availability of storage technology appropriate for a geothermal facility that will enable power to be stored during periods of low demand.

The commission also accepts comments by email. Please include your name and any organization name. Comments should be in a downloadable, searchable format. The comment deadline is 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4. Please include the name of the workshop in the subject line and send comments to chuck.gentry@energy.ca.gov.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.