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Title: Geothermal Risk Reduction via Geothermal/Solar Hybrid Power Plants. Final Report

There are numerous technical merits associated with a renewable geothermal-solar hybrid plant concept. The performance of air-cooled binary plants is lowest when ambient temperatures are high due to the decrease in air-cooled binary plant performance that occurs when the working fluid condensing temperature, and consequently the turbine exhaust pressure, increases. Electrical power demand is generally at peak levels during periods of elevated ambient temperature and it is therefore especially important to utilities to be able to provide electrical power during these periods. The time periods in which air-cooled binary geothermal power plant performance is lowest generally correspond to periods of high solar insolation. Use of solar heat to increase air-cooled geothermal power plant performance during these periods can improve the correlation between power plant output and utility load curves. While solar energy is a renewable energy source with long term performance that can be accurately characterized, on shorter time scales of hours or days it can be highly intermittent. Concentrating solar power (CSP), aka solar-thermal, plants often incorporate thermal energy storage to ensure continued operation during cloud events or after sunset. Hybridization with a geothermal power plant can eliminate the need for thermal storage due to the constant availability ofmore » geothermal heat. In addition to the elimination of the requirement for solar thermal storage, the ability of a geothermal/solar-thermal hybrid plant to share a common power block can reduce capital costs relative to separate, stand-alone geothermal and solar-thermal power plant installations. The common occurrence of long-term geothermal resource productivity decline provides additional motivation to consider the use of hybrid power plants in geothermal power production. Geothermal resource productivity decline is a source of significant risk in geothermal power generation. Many, if not all, geothermal resources are subject to decreasing productivity manifested in the form of decreasing production fluid temperature, flow rate, or both during the life span of the associated power generation project. The impacts of geothermal production fluid temperature decline on power plant performance can be significant; a reduction in heat input to a power plant not only decreases the thermal energy available for conversion to electrical power, but also adversely impacts the power plant efficiency. The impact of resource productivity decline on power generation project economics can be equally detrimental. The reduction in power generation is directly correlated to a reduction in revenues from power sales. Further, projects with Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) contracts in place may be subject to significant economic penalties if power generation falls below a specified default level. While the magnitude of PPA penalties varies on a case-by-case basis, it is not unrealistic for these penalties to be on the order of the value of the deficit power sales such that the utility may purchase the power elsewhere. This report evaluates the use of geothermal/solar-thermal hybrid plant technology for mitigation of resource productivity decline, which has not been a primary topic of investigation in previous analyses in the open literature.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
  2. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
15 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY; 14 SOLAR ENERGY; concentrating solar power; CSP; flash plant; geothermal energy; geothermal resource productivity decline; hybrid power plant; organic Rankine cycle; solar energy; solar-thermal