Geothermal Exploration, Economic Analysis and Distributed Energy Resource Demonstration
November 20, 2023
Renewable Energy (300)
Geothermal Grant and Loan Program
Dr. Ismail Kuscu; Lisa Safford; Dr. Roy Mink; Curtis Rose; Dr. James McClain; Daniel Hand; Chester Robertso
An extensive geoscientific investigation of geothermal resources in the eastern Surprise Valley was made to gain information on the potential for electric power development, followed by a demonstration of a distributed energy resource. Geological, geophysical and geochemical surveys were conducted to acquire information about the geological features and structures in an area of approximately 800 acres. Based on the findings, three sites were selected for temperature gradient drilling. The holes were used to obtain temperature gradient data and construct stratigraphic sections of the area. Water samples provided information about the geochemistry and the up flow pattern of the area’s hot water circulation. A conceptual model on how the geothermal systems worked in central eastern part of Surprise Valley was developed based on the geoscientific investigation.
A Distributed Energy Resource (DER) unit was installed to demonstrate the benefits of a small distributed electric energy resource utilizing low temperature and low flow thermal fluids discharging to the surface. The unit was designed to produce 20 kW. A hot spring, with a temperature of 190°F (88°C) and flow of about 150 gallons was used for the demonstration project. Although the unit demonstrated that electricity can be created at very low temperatures and flow, a six-minute test performed, using ten 100-watt light bulbs, resulted in surging and non-continuous power capabilities. Commissioning of the DER unit did not occur because consistent and adequate electrical power could not be supplied by the unit.
Assumptions derived from the temperature gradient drilling and geoscientific data were used to conduct economic feasibility studies identifying and quantifying development opportunities for the geothermal resource. In this context, electric, agricultural and aquaculture production potential of the study area were examined. Market feasibility studies for development opportunities were completed by determining the cost, economic merit, and sensitive variables both for the development and the market.