Historical overview on geothermal at the Geysers, California
Renewable Energy World provides a very good historical overview on geothermal utilisation and lessons learned at the Geysers area in California.
In a very interesting piece on The Geysers area in California, Renewable Energy World looks at geothermal development at the Geysers area and historical milestones in the utilisation of geothermal resources.
“The Geysers produced the nation’s first commercial geothermal electricity in 1960 at Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E’s) 11 MW Unit 1 power plant. Covering 30 square miles, The Geysers went on to become the world’s largest commercial geothermal field by the mid-1980s, with nearly a score of power plants approaching 2,000 MW of installed capacity. (Left: Steam lines along the road leading to NCPA Plant 1 at The Geysers. Coutresy Ted J. Clutter)
Against this backdrop of rapid growth, the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) built two 110 MW power plants in the southeast corner of The Geysers.
“During the late-1970s, NCPA was searching for a reliable renewable energy source,” says Murray Grande, who served as the agency’s Geothermal Facilities Manager for a decade. Shell Oil Co. discovered 300 C dry steam at the site in 1975, at a depth of 4,947 feet. After proving around 70 MW, the agency signed an exclusive contract with Shell to supply steam for its new operations. In January 1983, NCPA started up twin turbine generators at its 110 MW Plant 1, the first publicly owned geothermal power facility to operate at The Geysers. In 1985, NCPA bought the geothermal wells, field production facilities and all rights for future development. The purchase marked the first integrated approach to geothermal resource management at The Geysers.
“It created a synergy that made it easier to meet our need for steam while efficiently adapting operations to the dynamic geothermal reservoir,” Grande says. An aggressive two-year exploration and development program expanded the number of wells plying the NCPA field from 13 to more than 60, which ensured enough steam for a second NCPA power plant. Two turbine generators went online at NCPA Plant 2 in December 1985 and reached their rated capacity of 110 MW the following spring.”
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Source: Renewable Energy World