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Several New Geothermal Power Plants Slated for Nevada
Geothermal power development is moving ahead in Nevada, thanks largely to the efforts of a Reno-based company called Advanced Thermal Systems, Inc. (ATS). The company announced last week that it signed an agreement with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to develop geothermal resources on the tribe's reservation, located north of Reno. Although the agreement will start off with a series of feasibility studies performed by ATS, the company and the tribe intend to form a joint venture for geothermal power plant development, and hope to begin building a plant next year.
ATS announced in late September that it will build a new 40-megawatt geothermal plant in the previously developed Steamboat geothermal power park, located nine miles south of Reno. The company contracted GE Oil & Gas to build the plant, which should begin operating in early 2005. The Steamboat IV Kalina Cycle geothermal plant will use an air-cooled binary cycle that draws on the company's patented Kalina Cycle technology. The Kalina Cycle uses a closed loop filled with an ammonia and water mixture. The geothermal heat is used to vaporize the mixture, and the vapor then drives a turbine-generator to produce electricity. According to ATS, the technology has been used in four plants thus far and can cut construction costs by 20 percent while increasing power-plant efficiency by 20 percent. ATS acquired the U.S. rights to the technology earlier this year. See the press releases on the new ATS Web site.
A smaller geothermal plant is in the works for Churchill County, Nevada, which is just east of Reno. Brady Power Partners will add a 5-megawatt binary-cycle plant to its existing Brady Hot Springs Geothermal Power Plant. The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the construction permit back in May. See the Nevada PUC press release (PDF 15 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.
Geothermal energy is also moving ahead in other countries: in Russia, the second unit of a geothermal plant totaling 50 megawatts in capacity was placed online in October. The Mutnovskaya Geothermal Power Plant, located in the eastern Russian region of Kamchatka, is part of the Unified Energy System (UES) of Russia. See the UES of Russia press release.
But Iceland may end up being the site of one of the largest geothermal power facilities in the world. The Norwegian company Statoil ASA, one of the world's largest oil and gas suppliers, announced in early October that it is performing a feasibility study for a 600-megawatt geothermal power station in Iceland. The company proposes installing a 720-mile undersea transmission cable to connect the facility to the Norwegian power grid. See the Statoil press release.