Great geothermal potential might not be the great help for the Salton Sea

Great geothermal potential might not be the great help for the Salton Sea Hudson Ranch I geothermal power plant, March 2012, Salton Sea, California/ U.S. (source: EnergySource)
Alexander Richter 4 Jan 2016

A new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory highlights the great geothermal potential of the Salton Sea, but there are critical voices on its capabilities to help in funding restoration efforts.

A new report on the Salton Sea region in California, draws two distinct pictures. One describes the 1,800 MW of geothermal potential, the other says it won’t be enough to save the Salton Sea, saline lake in the Imperial Valley in the South of California.

The report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), sees geothermal energy, solar PV and concentrating solar power as having the greatest technical potential for development of renewable resources in the Salton Sea.

The report was funded by the State of California Natural Resources Agency and was aimed at examining renewable energy development and restoration strategies for the drought-threatened lake. The Imperial Valley is seen as one of the areas with the greatest geothermal potential in the U.S. and therefore of great interest to developers. The report describes a feasible development potential of 1,800 MW.

In a piece in Renewable Energy World, Leslie Blodgett of the U.S. Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) describes the report and its finding in a bit more detail. (link)

Local news paper, The Desert Sun, draws though a more critical picture, referring to hopes of geothermal power plants being able to fund Salton Sea restoration efforts, which it sees won’t be as lucrative as hoped and – most importantly – not as fast as everyone hopes. They particularly refer to the cost element for restoration that geothermal projects might face that essentially could kill any interest by investors and developers.

Source: UtilityDive, Desert Sun