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February 14, 2007

Ormat Leases Coastal Lands in Texas for Geothermal Energy

Does the coast of Texas hold promise for geothermal energy? Ormat Technologies, Inc. seems to think so, since the company has paid $55,645 to lease six tracts of submerged coastal land totaling more than 11,000 acres. The lease allows Ormat to explore the potential of the land's geothermal resources and, if possible, produce geothermal power from the tracts. According to the Texas General Land Office (GLO), Ormat wasn't alone, since multiple bids were received for the land. Ormat Chairman Lucien Bronicki says the company plans to produce power from the hot water associated with oil and gas wells. See the Texas GLO press release (PDF 115 KB) and map of the lease areas (PDF 303 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

Ormat is skilled at using its Organic Rankine Cycle technology to draw power from low-quality energy sources, and currently has a thriving business producing power from waste heat. The technology uses the heat to vaporize an organic fluid, powers a turbine-generator with the vapor, then cools and condenses the fluid, all within a closed cycle. In late January, the company announced that it had entered into a cost-shared Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with DOE to apply its Organic Rankine Cycle technology to hot water produced during oil production. Ormat will supply a power unit for use at the DOE Rocky Mountain Oil Test Center near Casper, Wyoming. According to the company, an oil well at the center produces enough water at 190 degrees Fahrenheit to generate 200 kilowatts of power. Ormat says 8,000 similar wells have been identified in Texas. A recent DOE study of geothermal energy, led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), also mentioned hot water associated with oil and gas production as a near-term option. See the January 25th press release on the Ormat Web site, and for information about the geothermal study, see the MIT press release.

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