US DOE Offers $102M Conditional Commitment for Loan Guarantee to US Geothermal; Supercritical Binary Geothermal Cycle Technology
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has offered a $102.2-million conditional commitment for a loan guarantee to US Geothermal, Inc. to construct a 22 megawatt geothermal power project in Malheur County, in southeastern Oregon.
US Geothermal estimates that the planned project will create 150 jobs during the 20-month construction period and employ 10 skilled full-time workers when it begins operating in 2012.
The project will use an improved technology to extract energy from rock and fluids in the earth’s crust more efficiently. The technology, referred to as a , is estimated to be more efficient than traditional geothermal binary systems, allowing lower-temperature geothermal resources to be used for power generation.
In typical binary geothermal power projects, hot water is drawn from wells as deep as 4,500-6,000 feet below the Earth’s surface. The water’s thermal energy is used to heat a secondary fluid that is vaporized and then forced through a turbine to generate electricity.
US Geothermal’s supercritical binary geothermal cycle is more efficient than other systems in extracting heat from the hot water which directly increases the output of the power plant. As a result, more energy can be extracted from existing sites in addition to new sites that previously would not have been considered for geothermal projects.
One hundred percent of the project’s output will be sold to Idaho Power Company under a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA). With the 25-year PPA in place, the project is well-positioned to accommodate anticipated population growth and renewable energy demand in the region. About 95% of the power plant’s infrastructure and parts are expected to be supplied by US-based manufacturers, according to the company.
Including this new conditional commitment, the DOE has issued conditional commitments for loan guarantees to support ten clean energy projects.