February 23, 2012
Solar-Geothermal Project Comes On Line
BCSE member Enel Green Power North America (EGP-NA) has brought on line a unique hybrid generating plant whose innovative solutions may have wide-ranging applications for both the solar and geothermal industries.
The combination 24 MW solar PV and 44 MW geothermal plant builds on research conducted by EGP-NA in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to blend and integrate the two technologies to create a better whole. Precisely when the thermal efficiency in the geothermal unit when is lowest—generally during the hottest and sunniest times of the day or year—the solar PV is at its most productive, stabilizing production during the day and enabling a more load-following production profile. Thanks to EGP-NA’s pioneering work and the sizable overlap in the geothermal and solar resource areas, there may be great opportunity for a scaled application of the solar-geothermal hybrid solution—a potential significant step forward for renewable electricity generation in the United States.
NV Energy has contracted for the electricity from the expanded project through an amended power purchase agreement approved by the Nevada PUC in July 2011. EGP-NA is working to achieve further synergies by engineering and installing a solar thermal unit at the Stillwater plant, a more challenging but potentially even more rewarding hybridization.