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How is geothermal technology developing? – a take by the CEO of Enel Green Power

Stillwater hybrid geothermal-solar plant, Nevada (source: Enel, video screenshot)
Alexander Richter 23 Apr 2017

In a recently shared article, the CEO of Enel Green Power describes key technology issues for renewable energy technologies, describing also technological developments for geothermal as the use of supercritical resources, hybrid with other technologies and better efficiencies for lower temperature resources.

In a recently published article shared by Francesco Venturini, the CEO of Enel Green Power on LinkedIn, he is looking at “what are the next improvements to these technologies that we can expect in the next few years and which applications are the most promising and interesting for us?”

Going into Solar PV technology, wind power, hydro, marine power and energy storage, he also looks at geothermal energy.

Describing geothermal as “not among the most widespread and well-known of renewables.”, he still sees geothermal as one of the technologies with  the likely “greatest potential in terms of increased performance over the coming years.”

The direction in which we need to work now has been recognized even by EU research programs. Main innovations go in three directions:

  • Exploiting deep, high temperature and high-pressure fluids,
  • Hybridization of geothermal with other technologies
  • Performance increases for low-enthalpy resources-based geothermal power generation.

Firstly, new generation of plants exploiting deep geothermal high-temperature and high-pressure fluids, namely supercritical fluids with a temperature higher than 400° C and pressure higher than 200 bar. The challenges here is in the research for breakthrough materials and technological solutions to convey and exploit such aggressive geothermal fluids at challenging conditions of temperature, pressure and chemistry.

Another way to spread this energy source will be through the hybridization of geothermal technology with other renewables. As Enel Green Power we have already created two proof-of-concepts. The first is Stillwater, in Nevada, which combines solar and geothermal. The second is Cornia, in Italy (Larderello) which combines geothermal with biomass.

And finally, increasing the performance of plants in low temperatures (120 – 150°C) where classic thermodynamic improvement could result in a very important boost for the diffusion of geothermal electricity generation throughout Europe.

Source: CEO of Enel Green Power via LinkedIn