DOE-funded Geothermal Plant World's First Using Low-Temperature Technology

August 22, 2006

Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski cut the ribbon Sunday to officially dedicate Alaska's first geothermal energy plant at Chena Hot Springs. He was joined by Senator Ted Stevens at the resort outside of Fairbanks for the ceremony, along with more than 1,000 people attending the Geothermal Conference and Renewable Energy Fair.

The geothermal system, funded in part through an Energy Department grant, is the first in the world to use a new technology that makes electricity generation possible at lower temperatures, a breakthrough that will make geothermal power plants feasible in a greater number of locations than today's high-temperature technologies. The total cost of the project, including onsite infrastructure, is $5 million, with 25% from DOE, 25% from United Technologies Corporation, and the rest from Chena and the Alaska Energy Authority.  The Pure Cycle (TM) organic rankine device was initially developed in partnership with the DOE Distributed Energy program to convert waste heat and liquid streams to power to increase system efficiency of distributed generation devices.

The new technology will mean clean geothermal power for many places in the world where it was not possible before. For Chena Hot Springs, the system will offset 160-thousand gallons of diesel fuel annually, and at today's prices, that translates into a cost savings of $384,000.

DOE will monitor the plant's performance over a three-year period and share the results with industry.

Chena Hot Springs is being developed as a sustainable community with commitments to renewable energy, energy independence, self-sufficiency and environmental stewardship. All buildings at the resort are linked by a geothermal district-heating system, separate from the geothermal power plant.