Geothermal Summit a Success

Joanna Schroeder

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) recently gathered in for its third annual National Geothermal Summit and the key topic was how to move geothermal forward.

GEA- geothermal plant tourOne way, as identified by Stacey Crowley, director, Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy and Karen Edson, vice president, policy and client services for California ISO, noted that as intermittent power grows, states have an urgent need for power that can fill the gaps and keep the system reliable. They said that geothermal energy can be part of the solution. In addition, Crowley and Edson stressed the geothermal should no longer be considered to be a baseload technology, but rather a firm, yet flexible energy option that can meet the needs of today’s power systems- especially as aging coal plants are replaced with clean energy.

“The industry has seen slow but steady growth over the past decade,” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. “The industry has had outstanding support from the Obama Administration. We’ve seen an average of 4% growth per year, but we would like to see 4% per month. How do we get there?”

One way discussed is to ensure the value of geothermal power is recognized, particularly its minimal system integration costs and high reliability values. Industry spokespeople noted that in order to support geothermal expansion, its full value must be recognized in the procurement process. It was observed that as the power grid adds more intermittent renewables to address Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) or climate policies, reliability problems and integration costs are expected to grow making geothermal more attractive.

The Summit also heard from companies working with advanced EGS technology. The development of EGS technology will improve the economics and offerings of geothermal energy, panelist Aason Mandell, Chief Commercial Officer, AltaRock Energy noted. The group heard from a panel of companies that have just completed successful demonstrations of EGS technologies on how EGS technology could expand geothermal production.

In addition, the Summit hosted the third annual student competition held by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The University of Rochester took home the top prize, highlighting a solution to leverage geothermal energy at a superfund site.

Geothermal, Renewable Energy