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California: large potential for distributed geothermal and potential Feed-in-Tariff

Transmission lines, Southern California (source: flickr/ Curtis Gregory Perry, creative commons)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 30 May 2011

Small and regionally dispersed geothermal power plants could provide up to 7 percent of the electricity supply in California, so a recent article from the state. The article further discusses what feed-in-tariff would be needed to spur development.

A recent article in the U.S., talks about that “small, geographically dispersed geothermal power plants could provide 7 percent of California’s electricity supply, according to an analysis of data collected by a consultant to the Golden State.

California recently passed new legislation requiring the state to provide 33 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and newly elected Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill into law.

Geothermal energy is a renewable resource using the heat of the Earth to generate electricity and heat homes, offices, and factories.

California leads the world in geothermal energy development. However, most of California’s geothermal power plants were built in the 1970s and 1980s. There has been very little geothermal development in the state since Brown was last governor in the early 1980s.

That could change. Candidate Brown prominently talked of introducing a system of feed-in tariffs to spur renewable energy development in California. Brown specifically mentioned developing as much as 12,000 megawatts (MW) of new renewable generating capacity with feed-in tariffs.

In a study for the California Energy Commission (CEC) in 2008, engineering consultant Black & Veatch examined the renewable resources available to meet California’s renewable energy target and the new transmission capacity that would be needed. Included in the consultant’s report, “Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative” (RETI), are detailed estimates of the cost to develop 244 proposed geothermal power plants at sites in California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.

Black & Veatch considered projects as small as eight MW to as large as 1,000 MW.”

The rest of the article goes into lengths of what feed-in-tariff and pricing could work for California. Definitely interesting read.

Source: Grist